A few minutes with … a really smart soccer player – Detroit Free Press
Being a college student is tough enough.
Imagine trying to keep up your grades while starting for the Michigan State womenâs soccer team.
Sarah Kovan has done that extremely well.
Kovan, 21, is working on bachelorâs degrees in comparative cultures and politics and in human biology andÂ was recently named a Rhodes Scholar, an achievement so rare, the schoolÂ says sheâs only the 17th at MSU since 1904. The award pays for Kovan to attend graduate school at the University of Oxford in England.
QUESTION: You are also the senior captain on the MSU womenâs soccer team. … How in the world do you balance that? Arenât you supposed to be taking basket-weaving classes?
ANSWER: (Laughs.) I think itâs just a lot of time management. And Iâve played soccer at a high level for a long time, so you kind of learn to do homework in the car, to make sure youâre planning ahead, and I think that kind of stuff just carries through, right through college, so.
I canât even imagine that. I mean, soccerâs probably a full-time job for you.
Yes, it definitely can be. But itâs fun and I enjoy it, so itâs not hard. I guess thatâs the easiest way to say it.
Are you doing anything else that takes up that much time now for the rest of the year, or are you just focusing on your academics?
Right now, focusing on academics, and kind of finishing up the application process. ‘Cause now I kind of have to start applying to Oxford, as crazy as that is. But then, hopefully, next semester, Iâm hoping to get into a lot more volunteer work.
What do you mean you have to apply to Oxford? Doesnât a Rhodes Scholar get some sort of minion who fills out all that paperwork?
(Laughs.) I wish. I wish they did. No, I mean they definitely hold your hand through the process, but you definitely have to go through the application process.
Can you recap or summarize for me what your daily routine might be like when youâre juggling soccer and academics?
Definitely. So, I tend to take, because of my two different majors, a relatively heavy course load. And so Iâll usually wake up in the morning around 8. So itâs not too early, which is nice. And then have a couple classes in the morning. For us, how our soccer schedule works, we have to have all of our classes done by 2:30, and then we have to have 2:30-afterwards kind of available for soccer. So, I usually have classes pretty much all morning, and then go to soccer after. So then you quickly change out of your school clothes into your soccer uniform, onto the field, and then that usually lasts a couple hours in the evening. That can vary depending on whether you need treatment (or) if youâre doing additional work. And then you turn around, eat dinner, and then begin studying for the rest of the evening.
So how many hours would a Rhodes Scholar spend every night studying?
Oh, gosh. It really just depends on the day, but pretty much from when Iâm done with soccer until I go to bed (around midnight). Thereâs not a lot of time in between.
Do you ever party? I mean, youâre in college!
(Laughs.) Yes, I do. Probably not as much as some of my friends would like me to. But I definitely do have opportunities. … You have to enjoy yourself a little bit, too. And spend time with friends.
Tell me what, if any, struggles youâve ever had. Like, in first grade, were you TERRIBLE at coloring or something like that?
You know I actually was a really bad reader.
As surprising as that is, yeah, it took me a long time to be able to read. … It came to me, eventually.
Have you ever flunked a test?
Yes, definitely. Uh-huh. Unfortunately.
Any memories of what class that might have been or what grade you might have been?
Oh, yes. I was doing incredibly well in biochem, in college. And sometimes you just have moments in college, which Iâm sure everyone has experienced, where you somehow have like four tests on the same day. And youâre suddenly trying to balance, which one do I study for the most, how does that work out? And biochem was definitely the one took the hit. But it ended up working out. So itâs OK.
Is coffee the root of all success?
I try not to. It definitely helps me when I write papers. Thatâs when I drink it the most, I think. (Chuckles.)
Do you have a go-to power food or power drink when youâre getting right down to the books? I want to know your secrets, Sarah.
I know. Iâm sensing this. I donât have anything like that. I think coffee would probably be the biggest one.
So youâre MSUâs 17th Rhodes ScholarÂ ever. A very, very rare accomplishment. Will you one day rule the world?
I donât know if Iâll rule the world, but my goal is definitely to help people. To make the world a better place.
That is the perfect Rhodes Scholar answer.
Contact Jim Schaefer: 313-223-4542 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @DetroitReporter.
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