Student athlete relationships: why love is commonly found within their niche

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Sam Cagle and Cosy Burnett got married in 2017. Both played for BYU volleyball. (Hailey Arnold)

BYU student athletes often have very complex schedules within their busy lives. Dating, while hard, is often easier with other athletes because they understand the complexities of competing on a college level.

Inter-athlete dating is often more convenient because the athletes are around each other more. With similar class, practice and sleep schedules they become friends more easily.

Women’s volleyball player Emily Lewis said athletes tend to date one another because they spend a lot of time together.

“Whether it’s eating food or going to each other’s games or in the weight room, we are just always around each other,” Lewis said. “It is helpful because when we have our busy schedules and are dating an athlete, they will understand that schedule.”

During the season, student athletes are required to keep to a strict sleep schedule. This helps them stay healthy and alert so they can manage their classes, practices and games.

“One thing that is really helpful is that you both need a lot of sleep — even more than the average student — so it is nice that you both go to bed early and wake up early,” Lewis said. “Sometimes it’s hard when you both don’t have those same goals. But if you are both working towards a goal, it makes it easier to keep those goals.”

In addition to hectic daily schedules, student athletes are also expected to go to all road games. Fellow athletes understand what it is like to go on the road and be away from each other for a long time.

“There are times that you are gone from Wednesday to Saturday on a road trip and it’s nice to be with someone that understands what goes on on the road,” said men’s basketball player Dalton Nixon. “There are a lot of long days and hotels and buses and airplanes. There is just so much that goes into being a student athlete and also being a student. It takes a lot of time, and it’s nice when they understand that.”

But student-athlete scheduling can also be a disadvantage.

“When you aren’t practicing, they are practicing, and there are a lot of schedule conflicts,” said women’s volleyball player Kennedy Redding. “You have to make time to see one another, which can be hard.”

Maintaining good team dynamics is another added time commitment for student athletes. When you are on a team, it is important to do things outside of practice to help unite the team.

This can cut into time normally spent with significant others. Sometimes it is hard to understand that teammate camaraderie is more than just hanging out, it is about building team unity to help compete together and win games, according to former BYU women’s volleyball player Cosy Burnett.

“I think that is so important,” Burnett said. “I can go to a team event, and he knows that I’m not leaving because I don’t love him, but because it is something I need to do.”

Emotional support is another reason athletes often date other athletes. As with any sport, there are victories, and there are disappointments.

Burnett, who got married this past year to a BYU athlete, said it is easier to have a partner who understands how to cope with a loss.

“It’s nice not having to explain things to him,” Burnett said. “Having someone to be there and confirm you after a loss and how to lift you back up is huge. It’s just such a good and constant thing.”

Some athletes, however, find their relationships off the court. Men’s basketball player Elijah Bryant married a non-student-athlete and has no regrets.

“It’s never been difficult because she knew from the start that my job is basketball,” said Bryant. “And I have to fulfill those responsibilities.”

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