Photo By: Dave Lowensohn | Flickr
By: Shanae Harte
When you think of a student-athlete, you think about someone that has been groomed in their sport from a young age that has a desire to transition their enjoyment of the sport into a career- but this is not the case for multi-sport York student-athlete, Rimsha Razi.
Razi was born and raised in Pakistan and attended a school that did not offer women’s sports. For this reason, the 22-year-old Aviation Management major had no great background in sports– she only played badminton and cricket recreationally while living in Pakistan. It was not until Razi moved to the United States, that she became more involved in sports.
“I moved to New York in the 8th grade and that’s when I joined a team for the first time,” said Razi. “I joined the volleyball team but since I came here in the last year of middle school, that only [lasted] one semester.”
Since joining her middle school’s team, Razi continued playing different sports in high school and started her track and field journey. Once she began college, she waited until her sophomore year to give sports a try again and started playing tennis. Then, in her junior year, after hearing the college’s need for more female members, she decided to join the track and field team. Razi fell in love with tennis but found it to be quite a challenge.
“I had no previous experience playing tennis so it was a bit challenging to really stay motivated as most other athletes had a lot more experience than me,” Razi said.
Though she does not plan on making sports her profession, Razi stated that tennis has become something she would continue to practice even after graduating this semester.
According to a scholarly article published by the University at Albany, State University of New York, student-athletes have a greater focus on their athletic careers rather than on their academic life, but this cannot be said for Razi. For Razi, having a successful academic life seems to be a necessity as she comes from a household where good grades are prioritized over everything else.
Razi proved that she was an exemplary student-athlete when she earned City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) Scholar-Athlete of the year for 2020-21. However, this title was earned with many other responsibilities Razi dealt with on the side. According to CUNY Athletics, Razi’s completion of 19 single and double tennis matches in 2018-19, being a student-mentor, a six-time Dean’s list honoree, and additional CUNYAC and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee accomplishments earned her the title.
“This accomplishment reminds me that it was worth it to choose my education and the sport I love rather than wasting my [time] on things that do not interest me,” said Razi.
This accomplishment did not come easy for Razi. The combination of wanting to excel in her academics and using sport as an escape from stress and personal problems led Razi to be the CUNYAC Scholar-Athlete of 2020-21.
“I think it is possible to perfectly balance all your responsibilities and the things you like to do; some things would need to be sacrificed,” said Razi, who found sports to be a balance between work and academics but ended up losing out on time spent with family. “I did devote more time to academics as I have always been expected by my family to prioritize better grades over everything else, but again, whenever I got too stressed out, I would just stop everything and just go to the gym or go to the park and play tennis.”
Razi understands that her academic accomplishments are great but does not think the pressure to follow in her footsteps is imperative. Taking note of her upbringing that academics should come first, this moral always stuck with her.
However, she believes that if she had been involved in sports activities from a young age, like most student-athletes, that is where her focus would have been.
“Having a great academic background is not necessarily important as long as you don’t have a bad one,” said Razi. “However, I do think that student-athletes grasp their classroom knowledge better because we do allow ourselves to just take a break and be away from it,” said Razi.
Many student-athletes look forward to receiving these types of accomplishments while in college as the “brains and brawn” characteristics give student-athletes a greater chance of being noticed or recruited. According to University Sports, strong academics can be a positive differentiating factor among team players for recruiters. When the pandemic struck, colleges were forced to cancel live sports activities to adhere to health guidelines. Razi believes that the pandemic caused a spotlight to be removed from student-athletes, but said the problem was greater than being recognized by scouts.
“Student-athletes suffered more as sports are a part of their daily life,” said Razi. “It’s not as much about the spotlight, but more about personal satisfaction athletes get from being a part of a team.”
As Razi prepares to graduate in just weeks, she plans on stepping into the aviation industry and hopes to train to become an air traffic controller. In terms of sports, she plans on continuing to indulge in the different activities recreationally.
As she moves on from being a Cardinal, she advises other student-athletes to not try a “balancing act” but rather, to take everything one step at a time.
“I personally do not think that being a diverse student is difficult, but trying to do it all at once is where the stress starts,” said Razi. “It’s all about learning to manage your time.”