Balancing Athletics and Academic Goals

Author: Fick '20, Annie

First-year fencers Christina Boitano and Julia Barry were asked about the hardest part of being a student athlete. Both replied, “Time management.” Time management can be difficult any first-year student, but even harder if you are an athlete.


Barry started fencing when she was ten years old, after watching the movie Spiderwick. She says she thought “Fencing looks so cool. I want to do that!” She started at a local fencing club — now she’s on the Canadian national fencing team.

Boitano has a similar story. “When I was eleven, I was on vacation with some family and it started raining, so we turned on the TV. The 2008 Olympics fencing matches were on and I thought, ‘man, that looks awesome, I want to try that!’”

When she’s not fencing or studying, you can usually find Julia either hammocking outside Lewis Hall, or experimenting with new makeup. As a political science intent, Julia is also very involved in politics, and has spent time volunteering for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Christina, who hopes to major in marketing, unwinds by listening to music and hiking. She also likes to hang out with friends and family, and to travel when she gets the chance.


Although they are passionate about fencing and have wide variety of interests, both women know they have to make their academic work their top priority. That can be tough with the demands of their practice schedule.
Julia explains, “We practice for three hours every weekday, and I usually don’t get the chance to start homework until at least 8:00 p.m. As far as overcoming workload, I definitely take advantage of [professors’] office hours, and I’m not afraid to go to tutors if I need extra help.”

“We have a certain number of team-required study hours to fill,” Christina adds. “That’s very helpful, but it definitely takes up a lot of our free time.”

However, she says, the benefits without a doubt outweigh the costs. She feels that it’s “amazing” to be part of the fencing team. “Fencing is usually more of an individual sport, so the community of the team here at Notre Dame is very rare.”

Julia also values of the comradery the team provides. “It’s like a whole family that I walked into.”

Christina adds, “We get a lot of support from older teammates who have taken some of our classes. They understand the difficulties in managing time because they experience it too.”

Learn More

Interested in improving your time management skills? Talk to your first year advisor about First year of Studies time management resources!

To learn more about our Notre Dame fencers, visit their website