Mudd Athletes Struggle with Crammed Schedules, Solutions Soon to Come

We are all busy here at the Claremont Colleges, but few of us are as busy as Harvey Mudd College athletes. Collegiate athletics are a significant commitment for any student, but participating in sports proves to be particularly challenging for HMC students.           

Take cross-country and track runner Rachel Mow HM ’17. Mow, a chemistry major, often finds that her academic and athletic commitments come into conflict. 

“I have lab three times per week in the afternoon," Mow said. "My coach has been talking about changing practice to the afternoon. If he does, I’ll barely be able to make any practices."

Going beyond the issue of missing practices, some HMC athletes even face the prospect of having to quit their sport altogether.                   

“We’re going to have to change the schedule for football practices next year, or I’m not going to be able to play because I have to take the computer science colloquium class,” Andrew Scott HM ’17 said. 

“I can’t just change my major to accommodate football,” he added.

In some cases, the problems even extend off the field. It is not just practice, or the whole season, that HMC athletes find themselves missing; many have less time to socialize and form or strengthen bonds with their teammates.

“We have 6 a.m. practices right now, and everybody goes to breakfast together after, but I can’t because I have to have 8 a.m. class everyday," Mow said. "That’s just the way the schedule works."

She suggested that the administration could help its athletes by giving them priority time slots for scheduling classes during their respective seasons. HMC has an especially rigorous core curriculum to give students a broad base in the STEM disciplines, critical analysis and writing. All students are required to complete these requirements, which means there are a lot of students competing to get into the same sections of the same classes. 

As stated on HMC’s website, students are required to take one course each in biology, computer science and engineering, three semesters of mathematics, two-and-a-half semesters of physics and an associated laboratory, one-and-a-half semesters of chemistry and an associated laboratory, as well as an interdisciplinary or disciplinary "Core" lab, a half-semester of college writing and a course in critical inquiry in the Arts, Humanities or Social Sciences.

Negotiating this intense curriculum with the demands of athletics is tricky to say the least, but usually professors are sympathetic when it comes to accommodating athletes’ schedules.

“About 90 percent of these problems are solved by speaking one-on-one with faculty,” said Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athletic Director Michael Sutton, who said he is aware of the challenges of being an HMC athlete.

However, there is not a lot of specialized support for HMC athletes from their school. Though other factors might contribute to this lack of guidance, low participation in athletics is probably a viable reason: There are only about 60 CMS athletes out of the total 784 HMC student body.

“I think [HMC athletes’] issues remain under the radar in a lot of cases,” Sutton said. 

It is easy, Sutton thinks, for student athletes to get lost in the volume and pace of their lives. Though he has yet to hear HMC athletes’ specific complaints, Sutton is optimistic that he can help make positive change for students. 

“The students, the coaches, the registrar and I can get together and figure out where we can make that adaptation for the students, but communication is critical," Sutton said. "I want to hear from our Mudders."