It is the most important week of freshman defender Kionna Simon’s year at Oklahoma State.
Oh, and she has an NCAA tournament to play in.
Because of COVID-19 postponements, the Cowgirls will play in the postseason over dead week and finals week.
Usually, the final two weeks of the spring semester are devoted only to school.
“OSU policy is if we’re not in season, for us in the spring it’s not a tradition segment, we’re not allowed to do anything with them during finals week and dead week,” coach Colin Carmichael said.
Carmichael said his players can set up times to work out or kick a soccer ball, but around a normal finals week it is voluntary.
This week, Simon will start an NCAA tournament game and a physical geography final — an unprecedented load for a soccer player.
“If we go into the round of 16 or the round of 8 you’re getting into finals week and already into dead week,” Carmichael said. “That does present challenges.”
Simon hopes to keep winning. In order for her and her teammates to extend their season even further into finals week, Simon is getting to keeping ahead of her work.
“I’ve been going ahead and finishing up the last couple assignments I have in my classes this last week, so I didn’t have anything to worry about for the first game,” Simon said. “This weekend once we play the game on Friday, depending on if we win, hopefully, I will be studying for my exams.”
There is a substantial support system to help athletes bear their intense workload.
“Agatha Adams and Marilyn Middlebrook and their staff over in academic services do a fantastic job of helping our kids get ahead of the game, stay prepared, get organized, talk to professors and do all the things they need to do to be comfortable in the class so they can perform on the field,” Carmichael said. “I feel great about that.”
When Simon balances physical geography, two English classes, a history class and a religions class with playing in the NCAA tournament, she will have a lot on her plate.
“We’ve got some really great student athletes as well, that helps,” Carmichael said. “I’m not too worried about them. There are certainly some challenges, but I think our kids are on top of it and we certainty have things in place to help them.”