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Juggling act

Nursing student balances school and soccer team demands with passion as a motivator

The University of Cincinnati women’s soccer team trains around the clock from August through October, with five practices and two games a week, plus regular weight lifting, team meals and recovery sessions in between. Mondays are considered a “day off,” when players are expected to watch film from previous games and take notes on how they can improve.

Sydney Goins, a center midfielder and fourth-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) student preparing to graduate in May, juggles all of this on top of her rigorous nursing classes, clinical rotations and co-op. How does she do it?

“It takes dedication and making sacrifices,” she says. “I think the hardest part is finding time for everything. ... When I’m not at soccer, I’m in class, doing homework or at co-op, so I don’t really have much free time.”

Goins makes sacrifices in many ways, sometimes leaving early or skipping practice to get to a class or clinical, or rearranging her co-op schedule when the team travels. Other times, she works with professors outside of class to catch up, or teaches herself the material. Her schedule is so jam-packed that even showering after practice is a challenge. “I try to sit in the back of the classroom away from people,” she says laughing.

Despite all of this, Goins says she doesn’t regret choosing both to pursue a BSN and play soccer. “It could have been easier to choose a less-demanding major and blow it off, but I think caring about both makes sacrificing everything for my major and sport a lot easier.”

For years, Goins has been passionate about soccer and nursing. She fell in love with the sport at 3 years old and says playing collegiately was always her goal. “My room was covered in soccer posters,” she says. “I think I still have a giant poster in my parents’ house.” She committed to UC’s division I team the summer before entering her sophomore year in high school. Less than a year later, a personal experience sparked her interest in nursing.

It could have been easier to choose a less-demanding major and blow it off, but I think caring about both makes sacrificing everything for my major and sport a lot easier.

Sydney Goins, Fourth-Year Bachelor of Science in Nursing Student

One morning in May 2014, Goins woke up to her mother screaming. She soon found her father, who lives with a rare heart disease called cardiac sarcoidosis, lying unconscious on the floor of her parents’ bedroom. While her mother ran to get help from a neighbor—who happened to be a nurse—then-16-year-old Goins immediately started to perform CPR. While she says she “just kind of winged it,” the doctors later told Goins she had played a major role in helping save her father’s life. It was during his subsequent hospital stay that Goins grew to appreciate nurses.

“Just seeing how helpful the nurses were during his hospital stay really made me want to be that knowledgeable and helpful to families in their hardest times,” she says. “I just really liked how they made one of the worst days of our lives a lot better and more manageable.”

Goins is confident that her soccer career—especially the time management and teamwork skills she has honed over the years—will help her become the best nurse she can be. After graduation, she hopes to continue working in the surgical intensive care unit at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where she is currently completing her co-op. Eventually, she dreams of earning an advanced-practice degree and becoming a nurse practitioner so she can work as an air care practitioner. Until then, she’s thankful for the support she receives from her soccer coach and nursing faculty, which ultimately enables her to achieve her current goals.

“My soccer coach and all the nursing professors have been so helpful and supportive of me, so I’m just really happy I have great people working with me to allow me to do both.”