E-learning offers flexibility for traveling student athletes


Payton Janicki

SAFE TRAVELS: Janicki snaps a selfie with her family at Midway Airport while they take precautions against COVID-19.

Maggie Ward, Feature Editor

Less class time, decrease in motivation, and multitudes of distractions are just a few reasons why remote learning could have caused hardship for many students in the past 17 weeks. However, for a select group of students, e-learning has actually made their lives a whole lot easier.

Student-athletes who play on premier club teams have benefited from the remote learning style. Instead of having to make up for the loss of class time and work, they take their school with them across the country. 

Junior Payton Janicki plays on an elite softball team that has tournaments almost every weekend all over the United States.

“If I was actually in school, I probably would have missed 10 or more days due to traveling for sports. Since I’ve been in e-learning I’ve only missed four days,” Janicki said. 

Zoom allows her to attend class wherever she may be. Just this fall she has traveled to Florida, Arizona, Georgia, Tennessee, and Missouri.

Junior Nathan Isoniemi agrees that remote learning offers more flexibility to athletes who already experience a busy schedule.

“With e-learning, I’m able to attend classes while traveling and staying in hotel rooms. Even if I do miss a day, all of the lessons are on our Chromebooks, so I’m able to keep up with my classes,” Isoniemi said.

Isoniemi plays on Team Illinois for hockey and has traveled to Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska multiple times already this fall. 

More breaks throughout the day have also allowed these athletes to stay caught up with their work while out of state.

“My schedule allows me to get a majority of my independent work done throughout the day, which gives me more time to focus on hockey after school and on the weekends,” Isoniemi said.

Not only has remote learning allowed for athletes to work while on the road, but it has also allowed for prospective collegiate athletes to tour more schools during the fall.

“There was a time where four weekends in a row I went on visits to Truman State, Hillsdale College, Northwood University, and Northern Michigan, then another bunch where I visited Palm Beach Atlantic, Southern Indiana, and North Gregoria,” Senior Jack Mielke said. 

Although the recruiting process has been made more difficult for athletes due to the pandemic, Mielke announced his basketball commitment via Instagram to the University of Southern Indiana on Nov. 29.

With most other seniors still applying for college, College and Career counselor Teri Manderino has noticed a stark contrast in this year’s application process.

“Even schools that are not allowing visitors to campus have remote options for learning about their programs,” Manderino said. “Additionally there are lunchtime informational sessions held by CARR [Chicago Area Regional Representatives] with more coming in semester two.” 

Over the summer, the College and Career center worked to improve their website, providing information tutorials to support students through the new, COVID-19 impacted, application process.  

With the flexibility that e-learning provides, science teacher Christopher Conley has noticed higher attendance rates in his classes.

“During a normal school year, I usually have about two or three students absent from each class on any given day. I have seen absenteeism drop significantly during the e-learning experience in my classes,” Conley said.

That being said, teachers have also tried to be more lenient in regards to student work and absences.

“COVID-19 has affected everyone in so many different ways, and I try to give students any support that I can to keep them moving forward with their studies,” Conley said.

Around the country, students have participated in e-learning to various degrees. While there may be more outspoken hardships to remote learning, perhaps there is a silver lining.

“Don’t get me wrong, I miss in-person school a lot, but with all the traveling, remote makes it a lot easier to not miss as much,” Janicki said.