Madison Sundling, Staff Writer

The phrase “student athlete” can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. Maybe you think of a high school jock, or maybe you think of that one sweaty kid who sneaks into class late from practice.  But, just maybe, you have wondered what life is like as a student athlete, and how it’s different from your own life.

Recent alum volleyball player Danielle Waedekin was gracious enough to give an interview, allowing us a glimpse into the life of a University of Missouri-St. Louis student athlete. If anyone is qualified to shed some light on the subject, it’s her. This rock star volleyball player graduated from UMSL last year with a nursing degree, as well as many athletic accolades. Over her four years, she accumulated some serious hardware, including two Academic All-Conference awards, two UMSL Outstanding Female Athlete awards, two GLVC defensive player of the week awards, and, to top it all off, she graduated with an Academic All-American award.

Waedekin, rather than strutting her awards much like the jock strutting his letterman jacket, walks in humility. She credits her coach and teammates to her success and goes on to say she couldn’t have done it without them.

“I truly give props to my athletic career and all the teammates and coaches I have had…if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t of even been close to receiving them.”

Her passion for volleyball started in the third grade and eventually beat out softball and basketball as contending sports to play for college. Knowing she wanted to play volleyball in college since ninth grade at Parkway North High School, she worked toward that goal eventually getting recruited by Indiana State University. However, finding herself unsatisfied, she searched other schools to transfer to with one of them being UMSL. After touring and practicing with the team, she found herself right at home among the Triton community of student athletes.

Even today, Waedekin wants more. For her, playing her favorite sport beside her beloved friends will be something she always cherishes. Returning to UMSL as a volleyball GA, she is seeing the court from a new perspective while attempting to offer her knowledge and experiences from the sidelines. It is from the sidelines that she can relate with players about the demands of the sport, especially its mental aspect.

“Confidence and mental and emotional strength goes a long way in the game,” said Waedekin.

With lessons like these in hand, the decorated graduate takes them and applies them to all aspects of her life.

There is more than meets the eye with a someone like Waedekin. The life of a student athlete is early morning workouts, sweaty practice shirts, weekend traveling, mental toughness and excellent time management skills. More than not, it means wearing multiple hats as a student, athlete, friend, teammate and player. Hopefully the next time you see a student athlete around campus, you won’t just see a sweaty T-shirt, but you’ll see a story.

Waedekin leaves us with this thought: “My one piece of advice to any student-athlete would be don’t take any moment for granted. Every moment comes with an opportunity to get better… There is always a reason for what you’re doing and there is always an opportunity that can be taken advantage of. Open your eyes and don’t let it slip by.