There is no doubt many students fall into the “un-average” student category at BYU — they have young kids at home, run their own businesses or fight crime in their spare time. But there are six students on campus who have a lot more on their plates than the vast majority of their BYU peers.
These are the student-athletes married to student-athletes.
Kendalyn Hartsock, a senior volleyball player, is married to former BYU basketball star Noah Hartsock. Christen Guenther, a senior pole vaulter, is married to senior baseball catcher Wes Guenther. Stacy Heap, a senior soccer player, just married junior volleyball player Andrew Heap June 8.
The average BYU student will more than likely say the combination of classes, homework, church callings and any attempt at a social life result in an extremely busy and even hectic life. But that is just the average student.
Not only do these students have classes to attend, tests to take and papers to write, they also have practices to attend, games to compete in and spouses to cheer on. An average student can only imagine the demands such a life could possibly present. How do you deal with the demands of school, the demands of collegiate athletics and the demands of marriage while your eternal companion is just as busy?
According to Christen Guenther, she and Wes understand each other more because they are both involved in athletics.
“I feel like it would be hard for a spouse to understand why the other one is spending so much time with sports, they take up so much time.” Christen said. “I think being able to help each other be confident and encourage each other to be successful helps.”
Christen and Wes both grew up in the Kansas City area. Their families were friends as the two grew up. Upon Wes’s return from his mission in Concepcion, Chile, the two started dating and were married in December 2010. Both are exercise science majors, which they said helps them spend time together and be successful.
According to Andrew Heap, his relationship with Stacy has relieved the other stresses in his life.
“When you date someone it takes up a lot of time, but I think you can kind of receive more strength from the relationship to do better in other areas of your life, especially when you know the other one’s rooting for you,” Andrew said. “We just support each other and it’s really great.”
Andrew and Stacy met during their freshman year at BYU in 2007. Upon Andrew’s return from his mission in Chile in 2011, the two began dating and were married in June. They have opposite practice schedules, leaving them little time to spend together. Much of the time they do have together is spent eating or doing homework.
“Our practices are opposite, so it seems like we don’t have that much time together, but we do a lot of homework together,” Stacy said. “When he’s feeling overwhelmed, I’ll try and help him and vice-versa. … We both like to eat, so we eat almost every meal together, and that’s always nice.”
One of the challenges these couples face is making time for each other outside of school and sports. The Hartsocks, who were married June 8, 2010, said they make time for each other by trying to go on at least one date a week.
“Sometimes I’ll come home and say ‘hi’ to him for the first time at like seven or eight at night, which stinks,” Kendalyn said. “Or there’s times when we won’t see each other until dinner. But sometime throughout the week we always go on a date.”
All six athletes said their experience with school, sports and marriage has taught them valuable lessons. Stacy Heap said she has learned the importance of communication and sharing one’s feeling, however hard it may be. Noah Hartsock said life only gets better after marriage.
According to Christen Guenther and Kendalyn Hartsock, their busy schedules have taught them the importance of prioritization.
“I think the most important thing is just getting your priorities in order, with sports, with school, with relationships, with your family and friends, as well as your faith,” Christen said. “Because when you have all that we have going on, you have to just keep a perspective on what’s most important.”
Andrew Heap said he has learned the value of putting someone else’s needs first.
“For me, the biggest thing has been learning how to put someone else’s feelings and concerns before your own,” Andrew said. “As you do that, the relationship grows stronger and I think you’re happier, too.”
Wes Guenther expressed a similar sentiment.
“I had to realize Christen has goals and she has aspirations,” Wes said. “At first I didn’t really understand that and I was kind of selfish in that regard, wanting it to be about me. But I’ve learned to be much more supportive of her and helping her in any way I can. … There has to be that unselfishness and sacrifice to help each other out.”