Exam Jam a Home Run

Kristen Knutson
Dec. 15, 2015 Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Student-athletes are accustomed to pressure based on tangible outcomes.

Whether it’s the playing field, the gym, the mat or the track – or the classroom.

Kristen Knutson, a senior on the Central Michigan women’s soccer team, had an idea to give student-athletes a quiet, supportive place to study, and provide them with an outlet.

“Studying for finals is boring, it’s not fun, and the mind, after two hours, everything turns to mush,” Knutson said.

Knutson hatched Exam Jam, an all-day event Sunday at the Dick Enberg Academic Center at the Indoor Athletic Complex.

Knutson’s idea drew an enthusiastic endorsement of Student-Athlete Services, and the game plan was carried out on Sunday, as more than 250 student-athletes visited the academic center to study, and to take a few minutes to blow off steam.

“I think that that was a great number,” Knutson said of the turnout. “We have about 450 student-athletes and to get that many students on the night before finals week was pretty awesome.

“I thought it went really smooth. I thought everybody there had a blast; got some good studying done and had fun while they were doing it. We went through 20 boxes of pizza.”

Snacks, coffee, hot chocolate and water were provided at the center, while the events included a movie – appropriately for student-athletes, it was “Remember the Titans” – games, pizza and a visit by the world famous Chris Cakes, the entertaining pancake maker.

“Finals week is really stressful, studying for finals is really stressful so I kind of wanted to make it fun – give them a mental break to recharge,” Knutson said, adding that “the highlight of the event was the Cornhole tournament. It got pretty competitive.”

The day had a we’re-all-in-this-together vibe, said Knutson, who spent her first two years at the University of Minnesota before transferring to CMU.

Student-athletes, particularly at CMU, she said, share a strong sport-to-sport bond that springs from the shared challenges each faces, from time management, injury issues, team bonding, road trips along with academic and performance pressures.

“Really, here especially, I feel the entire body of student-athletes is a close-knit group of friends,” she said. “We all know each other, we all get along. It’s another goal that we share – do well on our finals and be successful on the field and off.”
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