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Adjusting to Utah not always easy for student-athletes

WSU  (Lichelle Jenkins/ The Signpost)
For WSU softball outfielder Jazmine Thompson, one of the biggest changes for her moving from southern California to northern Utah was adjusting to the weather. Since moving here, Thompson says she has fallen in love with Utah and Weber State.
(Lichelle Jenkins/ The Signpost)

Student-athletes from all over the United States, and even other countries, come to Weber State University to play their respective sports and put a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears into it. However, one of the most difficult challenges for out-of-state student-athletes is adjusting to their new home.

“Coming from Florida to Utah, the hardest adjustment I had to make was the elevation,” said WSU football offensive lineman and Vero Beach, Florida native Joe Hawkins. “It was hard to breathe when I was running. It kind of felt like my lungs were being compressed.”

Some students come from what are considered the vacation spots of the country and find it hard to come to such a mountainous area. For some incoming student-athletes—like Hawkins—the change in altitude provides a major challenge for them. For others, the hardest thing about coming to Utah is having to deal with the weather, as is the case for WSU softball outfielder Jazmine Thompson.

“For me, it was really hard to adjust to the weather,” the Riverside, California native said. “I’ve never been around snow at all so I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.”

Student-athletes are not the only ones that have to deal with the changes of coming from out of state. WSU football coach Quinton Ganther played football at the University of Utah, but is originally from Oakland, California. When making the move to Utah, the biggest challenge for him wasn’t the altitude or the weather, but the distance away from his family.

“When I was coming to Utah the biggest issue and adjustment I had to overcome was being away from my daughter,” Ganther said. “It was hard being in another state without her, but when times got rough her smile made it better.”

Ganther thinks it is hard on athletes coming from high school to be away from home. He says it’s hard for kids not to get homesick, but he lets his athletes know that the team is a family and he will always be there for them.

Despite the trials and tribulations that athletes go through to play the sport they love, there is a bright spot for them once they find it.

For Thompson and Hawkins, it is the unique, natural beauty of Utah.

“The best thing I like about Utah is the nature and being able to see the stars at night,” Hawkins said. “Where I live there are a lot of big buildings with bright lights and it’s almost impossible to see stars.”

Athletes deal with a lot of struggles when they leave their homes to go to a foreign place. However, they find their own ways to cope with it.

Through the relationships they make with their teammates and coaches, and the beauty of Utah, they adapt more and more every day.

“I fell in love with Weber first. As I became happier with Weber, I started to love Utah and appreciate its beauty,” Thompson said, “I like how Utah is so different from California because it allows me to branch out and experience so much more.”

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