Children spark new adventure for athletes

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    By Chad Barney

    For student athletes, balancing life in general can be a difficult task, especially if they”ve taken the plunge into the adventurous life of marriage.

    Time becomes more precious as a balance between work, school and athletics now includes a spouse and sometimes children. Athletes said they try to stay caught up in their classes, but the work just seems to pile higher and higher.

    Practices can seem like an eternity. The athletes begin to feel overwhelmed and wonder how they”re going to survive.

    For the Stephens family, life in general is an everyday adventure, considering that they have two young daughters who just look forward to the times when daddy is home.

    Brandon Stephens, an offensive lineman for the Cougar football team, understands how hard it can be trying to balance it all.

    “Playing football is our job,” Stephens said. “I don”t feel I spend any less time than a married student would spend with two kids because they got to work too.”

    Stephens, who converted from defense to offense in 2002, said he looks forward to the times when he gets to go home and spend time with his wife, Sally, and their daughters, Maggie and Navy.

    “If I have the possibility to go home, I go home,” Stephens said. “If I have the chance to spend time with my family I do.”

    During the season for Stephens, a pattern began to develop.

    “Sally and I would wake up at 7 in the morning, and each one of us would take a kid and change their diaper,” Stephens said. “Once the diaper is changed, you”re ready to go.”

    Stephens would then head off to campus for three hours of classes, take a lunch at 12:30, and then head back to campus between 2 and 7 p.m. for practice. Once he arrived at home, he spent time with his wife and children, and then went to bed so he could wake up and do it all over again.

    Soccer star Jennifer Fielding and her husband, Cory, who”s a junior at BYU studying finance, find themselves walking a similar path.

    The Fieldings, along with the Stephens, know what a struggle it is to find time for one another. They tend to find themselves spending a lot of time on other things.

    Jennifer, for instance, had a similar schedule as Stephens did during the fall season.

    “Homework was the last thing I wanted to do,” Fielding said. “So I would come home, go to the kitchen and cook.”

    Ways in which the Fieldings made time for one another is by following the council they received from those who have been down a similar road.

    “We made sure that we went on a date each week,” Cory said. “We also had family night once a week.”

    For Cory, watching his wife play is something that he loves to do. Not only does Jennifer have a busy schedule, but when two married students attend school, it makes it tough finding time with each other.

    “She would get home at about 6 o”clock, and I wouldn”t get back from school until 7,” Cory said. “From 7 to 9 o”clock we would have dinner, hang out, and then I was back on campus studying until midnight.”

    Matt Hickman, who throws the javelin for the BYU track and field team and finished third last year in the MWC, knows what time management is all about.

    “I have a 16-month-old son and a beautiful wife, a religious calling, academics and sports,” Hickman said. “You really have to find a fine line and know where you”re limited. Otherwise you”re going to cut somebody out and usually it”s your wife or son, which is the most important.”

    Married student athletes say they try to get as much done as they can while they”re on campus. Perfecting their talents and trying to make themselves better is just as important as their academics. But what seems to be at the top of their list, along with all the other things they need to do, is striving to make time with their spouses and children.

    “When I get home I try to have everything done so that when I”m home it”s their time,” Hickman said. “I get to relax and play with my son and enjoy the company of my wife.”

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