DURHAM, N.C.-- As the fall semester’s final exams begin, Duke student-athletes prepare for the most stressful time of the academic calendar. The Student-Athlete Development Department, in an effort to combat anxiety and stress, offered student-athletes the opportunity to take a break from studying, writing papers, and exams through visits with therapy dogs and yoga. Final exams come with a lot of pressure to perform in the classroom as student-athletes strive finish the semester strong. While there are no competitions during finals week, students-athletes are still training to make sure they are in shape as winter sports will soon be in season and spring sports are preparing for preseason.
In order to help student-athletes relax during this mentally exhausting time of the year, the Student-Athlete Development Department hosted its semi-annual Paws for Exams event in the K Center for over 100 Duke athletes. Lisa Wells, the owner of the local dog store Paws at the Corner, and Vera Shanley brought their locally-trained therapy dogs to campus for the program.
Brandon Hill, a sophomore on the Duke football team, enjoyed visiting with the therapy dogs Aspen, Izzie, and Beau. He stated, “Who doesn’t love a good dog petting session? We get to relax and talk with each other about what exams are coming, while petting the dogs. It is a good time for everyone.”
Similarly, Ana Belac, a sophomore on the women’s golf team, commented, “Paws is the highlight of finals week—we love hanging out with Izzie, Aspen, and Beau!”
A different outlet offered to student-athletes was an hour-long yoga session in Scharf Hall. One of the major benefits of yoga is stress reduction, as it helps individuals achieve a peacefulness of both the body and mind. Because of this, multiple programs on campus have adopted yoga programs as a regular part of their training regimen in the preseason. Similarly, it is important to bring these benefits to student-athletes during exam week to help them cope with the obligations of final projects, exams, and class papers.
“As a department, we try to be forward-thinking regarding the needs of our student-athletes. There is lot of pressure that comes with final exams at Duke; when you add on being a student-athlete, that pressure can be daunting. We want to give our student-athletes outlets to relax and connect with each other, so they know they are not alone and that it is ok to relax at times,” stated William Wright of the Duke Student Athlete Development Department.
Duke Athletics is thankful to Lisa Wells, Vera Shanley, and their dogs for their efforts in supporting Duke student-athletes.