THERE has always been a misconception that student-athletes cannot excel in academics as much as they do in sports.
But Tiger Fencer Jessie Suarez is breaking that stereotype.
Suarez has four bronze medals throughout his UAAP career. He is also a cum laude graduate of computer science with a general weighted average 1.678.
“The experience of being a student-athlete is one of a kind. [In itself], it already is a stress reliever. If I am stressed with academics, I release all of my frustrations in training. And if I do not train well, I release my frustrations in academics. I recite a lot,” he said.
Balancing his studies with fencing was also his way of proving something. His parents wanted him to go to Ateneo de Manila University but on the condition he would leave fencing.
“We had the agreement that I always had to be in the dean’s list so I could play because they wanted me to forget fencing. I agreed because I wanted to show them that fencing was not a hindrance in academics,” he said.
The 20-year-old became a dean’s lister in all of his semesters in the University except the second semester on his second year in college when he averaged a 1.92-GWA.
It was not a walk in the park, however, as he had to sacrifice his time for family and his social life due to trainings which were done even in the holidays.
“I wanted to prove that we [athletes] are not idiots. It is annoying that we are being downed. I understand where [people] are coming from [with the ‘student-athletes are stupid’ tag] because the performance of some student-athletes are really poor. [But] it is because [student-athletes] are tired [because of training].”
Suarez admitted that he also had a hard time coping with academics just like any other student-athlete but his Latin honors is a testament that it “is wrong to degrade athletes.”
UST men’s foil team head coach Emerson Segui said Suarez is a dedicated athlete, noting that not all student-athletes can perform in their sports and academics with the same satisfactory results.
“He knows how to balance his schedule very well,” Segui said.
Suarez said being a student-athlete is “not for all people because not all can juggle two lives” but if there is a desire to excel in both, anybody can succeed.
“It is not a reason that just because you are an athlete, you have to let go of you being a student. It is not a reason that because you are a student, you do not have what it takes to become an athlete. If you love your sport and your course, you can do it,” Suarez said.