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By: Ben Keymer

The adjustment for student athletes from high school to university is riddled with challenges and tribulations, and for first-year defensive back Adam Poole, these challenges are only magnified. Many first-year students know how hard it can be to balance sleep, school and a social life. For Poole, there is a fourth element: football.

Hailing from Brampton, Ontario, Poole serves the role of starting cornerback for the Marauders football team. While most first-year students were moving into residence and starting their first day of Welcome Week, Poole was in downtown Toronto playing his first university football game against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.

The academic adjustment from high school to university is significant for all students and it’s no different for athletes. Balancing regular practices, meetings and games with a university course load is a lot to ask of an 18-year-old, but the football support staff do an excellent job of ensuring that their players are successful on the field and in the classroom. Poole said that his coaches are adamant that their players must not be “one hit wonders.” To ensure that all players are successful student athletes, they are paired with an academic advisor for the year they meet with weekly to discuss academic goals and plans for success in the classroom.

While the transition in the classroom is difficult, the on-field adjustment is even tougher. “Training camp was really hard,” said Poole. “I was getting used to the speed, getting used to the game, getting better.” He pointed to speed as the largest change from high school, with the mental game as a close second.

There is not much room for error in university football like there was back in high school. Every decision must be made in a split second and while much of that comes from physical size and speed, the innate sense many university football players possess for the game makes it exponentially harder.

Flashing back to Varsity Stadium in Toronto, where the Marauders beat the Blues 55-33, Poole showed little difficulty in his transition. He picked up 4.5 total tackles and an interception in the victory. “It was pretty amazing,” Poole said regarding the game, “First start, first pick, first win. It was a good feeling.”

The Marauders will be looking for similar production from Poole through the final games of the season and hopefully into the playoffs, where they will be looking for a second straight Vanier Cup appearance. The team’s offense is particularly strong this year, so if Poole and his fellow defensive backs are able to shut down the opposition’s air attack, the Marauders will compete with the best teams in the country.

Poole seems to be handling the student athlete transition extremely well, in part thanks to his combination of natural ability and work ethic, and in another due to the support provided to him by the university’s coaches, trainers and advisors.

Photo Credit: Dax Melmer/The Windsor Star

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