Photo courtesy of Danny Karnik

Teegan Van Gunst is an outside hitter on the volleyball team. From Fayetteville, she and her twin sister Annika lead the team in kills. The Technique sat down with Van Gunst to discuss her path through the ME curriculum, Total Person Program and future plans.

Technique: How would you say you balance class with volleyball and anything else you do?

Van Gunst: That’s a good question. I feel like I’ve done it since I’ve been growing up, even through high school. I played multiple sports for high school and club ball, so I was always going from school to practices, finding time to eat in between and do homework when I got back late at night. So for me, it’s been more of something I’ve been accustomed to. It’s a lot of work, and it’s something that you definitely have to get used to. It’s not something that comes easy, and it definitely takes a lot of time management.

Technique: Followup, how did you balance ME 2110 with everything else?

Van Gunst: Well, that one we took over the summer, so that helped. We were only taking two classes, so we had a little more time. We didn’t have regular practices then.

Technique: Do you think student-athletes have to take classes like that in the summer?

Van Gunst: Not necessarily. A lot of athletes don’t take summer classes, but I knew for me that was a class that I had heard took a lot of time. It was one of those where I was like “I’m going to take this over the summer to try to make my life as easy as possible. So I didn’t have to take it either in-season or in the spring when we’re still practicing all the time.

Technique: Another student-athlete said that the perception that people have of athletes doesn’t really happen in the classroom. It’s from group projects and stuff where student-athletes have to balance their schedules with everyone else’s schedules, and yours are so much more hectic. Have you seen anything like that with your lab classes?

Van Gunst: Yeah, to some extent. When you’re in a group of [non-athletes], they don’t quite get the time demand. Say we would have a group meeting to talk about whatever project or report that we had to do. I’d text in the group message, “We have practice at 3:30, so we can’t meet,” and they’re like, “Ok, let’s meet until 3:30,” and that’s not something, y’know … we need to be in the gym at least by 3. Things like that, where they just don’t understand the “yeah practice is only from 3:30 to 5:30, but you still need to be there at least 30 minutes before, [and] you’re still not getting out of the gym until at least 6.” That type of thing has been my experience: trying to find times to meet with groups is a lot harder.

Technique: Are you doing capstone now or next semester [(Spring 2017)]?

Van Gunst: Next semester.

Technique: How do you think you’ll manage that, where you actually have to meet a lot per week?

Van Gunst: Luckily, we’ll be done with volleyball, [and] because I’m a 4th year, I’ll be done [with practicing]. It also helps that we found a group of athletes: me, my sister and two others, track girls, … most of us are athletes. The two track girls will be in-season, but at least we understand what they’re doing, so we can make it easier for them.

Technique: How has the Total Person Program helped you make the transition from high school to college or helped you for the professional world after you graduate?

Van Gunst: Leah [Thomas] is super awesome and a great resource and a great leader for the Total Person Program. Her wisdom and the people she brings in help us out give us a bigger worldview, a bigger picture of what we’re doing now and the struggles we’re going through now and how we can use them — the experiences and the struggles — to propel us into the workplace and wherever our careers take us. So that’s definitely been something that I’ve enjoyed.

The different activities and service projects that we’ve done, volunteer hours that we’ve put in, whether it’s Girls on the Run or Special Olympics — things like that that get us away from our sports bubble to kinda see what else is out there.

Technique: What about the diet aspect of the Total Person Program?

Van Gunst: I’ve definitely used [Thomas] as a resource because she is also our nutrionist. Getting her advice on how to best fuel everybody because there are a lot of misconceptions about, like, “You don’t want to eat too many carbs, or you don’t want to have too much fat.” It’s knowing what healthy fats are, knowing when to eat carbs and when they’re going to replenish your fuel for a game the next day. Things like that that have really helped me navigate through how to best fuel my body for competition.

Technique: What are your plans for after graduation?

Van Gunst: I want to keep playing volleyball, either professionally, which would take me overseas somewhere because there’s not an indoor league in the U.S. yet, whether that’s South America or Puerto Rico or Europe or Indonesia or …

Technique: Where would you want to go?

Van Gunst: I don’t really know. It’s all about contacts and who’s interested in you and all that kind of stuff. So either that or start a Masters and play sand volleyball for my fifth year of eligibility. That’s something that I’m also looking into, but because we’re in the middle of the season, we can’t contact coaches and stuff like that now.

Once season ends is when we’ll start getting offers for indoor teams overseas and also be able to contact other coaches about continuing play. Definitely I want to keep playing volleyball.