For nursing junior and Bruins baseballer Tommy Crider, the day starts before dawn when his alarm clock blares at 5:15 a.m.
A quick shower and breakfast later, he leaves for his assigned health care facility for a 6:15 a.m. clinical shift. Clocking out 12 hours later, he heads home to a pile of homework after a busy day on his feet.
Waking up at 6:30 a.m. the next morning, a lifting session awaits before hours of class. He rushes off to his midday practice, hitting balls and running bases until 5 p.m. When he gets home, he has — big surprise — more homework.
Crider is one of the Bruins who takes on the challenging schedule of both a nursing major and a sports student-athlete. For either one, time is scarce, competition is fierce and commitments are never-ending — and for those who are both, life is a balancing act.
Basketball’s Allison Luly and cross-country runner Zoe Goodmanson also find themselves changing uniforms often, from the red-and-blue kit of Belmont Athletics into the white scrubs that mark them as nursing students.
But all of them make this lifestyle work, and they have their teams behind them.
“Nursing, I love it. It’s definitely something I want to do, which is my main motivation to balance this,” junior Goodmanson said. “Just being able to be on the team and work through stuff with them is great.”
Goodmanson loves running enough to make a college career out of it, and for any high strenuous sport, rest and recovery is crucial. Juggling class schedules, practice, early morning clinicals, homework, social gatherings and significant others does not come without a price, and prioritization is key.
Still, the most difficult aspect of the nursing-student-athlete lifestyle is finding time to sleep.
And sometimes, declining tempting social invitations from friends and teammates is necessary in favor of some alone time.
“If they are even going out and I have a second to myself, then I’ll probably choose to be by myself because it feels like I’m always constantly with people,” Goodmanson said.
Her cross-country teammates are some of her best friends, though, and Crider feels the same.
“We’re literally like a family,” Crider said. “I spend more time with the baseball team than I spend with my brothers, my parents, my girlfriend.”
It’s an honor he earned despite splitting his time between hot afternoons on the diamond and hours of nursing clinicals in hospitals and care centers around Nashville.
With his busy schedule, there’s not much room outside of sports and school and for personal time.
“You’re doing everything a normal student would do, but now you just have 3 or 4 more hours of practice every day that they don’t,” Crider said.
Procrastinators wouldn’t last a day in their shoes, it seems.
Though this rigorous schedule may seem overwhelming to the average student, Belmont is one of the few universities to allow students to be nursing majors and athletes simultaneously, something fifth-year senior Luly commends.
“Being able to do both is just an add-on bonus that I absolutely adore and I love and I’m so thankful that I get to do,” Luly said.
Just like Crider, she has gotten used to the 5:15 a.m. wake-up alarms to make it to her nursing obligations, and with this in mind, time management is a crucial survival skill when it comes to making it all work, Luly said.
Also, self-care is a must, and naps are a plus whenever you can get them, she said.
But being a student nurse comes with other perks too.
When Luly suffered a wear-and-tear hip fracture and labral tear that eventually made her unable to walk without pain, she applied her medical knowledge to her own diagnosis to see the problem more clearly.
“When I had it happen to me, the nurse in me wanted to connect the pieces and do my own research,” Luly said.
With exhausted bodies and minds from their chronic busyness, one might wonder what makes all the chaos worth it.
Waking up before sunrise and grinding past midnight, they hang on to a tired but tremendous love for their work.
They can’t picture themselves doing anything else.
“It feels like something I’ve done for a very long time,” Goodmanson said.
“It just feels like what I was supposed to be doing.”
PHOTO: Belmont nursing major Zoe Goodmanson in nursing scrubs versus her in cross-country mode, striding towards the finish line in the Belmont Opener Sept. 3. Belmont Vision / Jessica Mattsson. Scrubs photo courtesy of Zoe Goodmanson.
This story was written by Chloe Collins.