UPDATE (Sunday, March 31 at 1:23 p.m. PT) — Two Oregon women's basketball teams made it to the Sweet 16 this year — the Oregon Ducks and the Oregon State Beavers. And after Sunday's game at the Moda Center, the Ducks are in the Final Four for the first time.
But before the Ducks can continue dancing this Spring they also have to prepare for the beginning of spring term Monday.
At the University of Oregon, Jennifer Jackson is there to help. She advises nine women’s basketball players, the tumbling team, and one-third of the school’s football team. In her role, she helps athletes schedule classes and time with tutors.
“There’s not very many regular students on campus that have a three-hour window cut out of their day every single day when they get up in the morning,” Jackson said.
Jackson says this year’s tournament timing has been good for the Ducks. They’ve been on spring break all week, with just one academic assignment — to pick up their books.
But once classes resume, Jackson says multitasking is key.
“It falls to them to make time in other areas,” Jackson said. “A lot of them will be reading a book while in the cold tub, doing those assignments any time they can steal a few minutes.”
Compared to the Sweet 16 games two years ago in Connecticut, Jackson says this year has been less stressful academically for the players.
“That was during finals week, and they had to fly a professor out to the East Coast to proctor exams,” Jackson said.
For players to better manage their time, Jackson says many of the student-athletes work with tutors — even if they’re not required to.
“They realize how much more efficient they can be if they sit down with a tutor to help them out in understanding their assignments in the content of their courses,” Jackson said.
Oregon beat South Dakota State 63-53 Friday in Portland. During a press conference Thursday, South Dakota State guard Macy Miller mentioned that classes there are still in session.
“It’s been a crazy few days,” Miller said. “We fly home at 2 in the morning. We have people that go to classes.”
In Oregon, classes resume next week. Next Friday and Saturday are the NCAA Women's Final Four games in Tampa, Florida. The Ducks punched their ticket to Tampa in Sunday's Elite Eight win over Mississippi State.
Jackson is already looking forward.
“It’s not ideal to miss any part of the academic term,” Jackson said. “But if you’re going to miss — the first week maybe gives you an opportunity to make everything up.”