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Tero Tiitu & Eliisa Alanko: Combining floorball with studies – a wonderful and valuable phase of life

Both Eliisa & Tero have represented Finland at international level for many years, being key players in the national teams. They have been part of club teams participating at the highest level in Finland and, for Tero, also in Sweden.
Besides their well-known floorball careers, Eliisa will soon graduate from University of Turku, Faculty of Medicine as a licentiate of Odontology and will be qualified to work as an independent dentist in six months. Tero has graduated as Master of Science (Econ. & Bus. Adm.) from Aalto University School of Business, majoring in Finance. He is currently preparing his thesis for soon graduating also as Master of Science (Tech.), majoring in Industrial Engineering and Management.

While living in the present and chasing your floorball dreams to the fullest, some consideration should also be given to the life outside the floorball bubble. In this blog text we will share some thoughts about why and how to study along with the floorball career, based on our own experiences both as top players and university students. At first sight, doing homework and reading textbooks for exams may not sound as interesting and rewarding as playing floorball or hanging out with your teammates, but we strongly insist that it is worth it.

Why concentrate on study as well as floorball?

This is simple: we all want to live an enjoyable life and fulfil ourselves right now but also later in the future. Right now, studies offer a good balance to floorball, both in terms of social surroundings and factual content. You have a chance to meet interesting new people, which provides a nice variety to the ordinary locker room life. You get an intellectual challenge and something else to think about between all those practices and matches. Moreover, you make a valuable investment to your future. In most cases, compared to working, you even have a much more flexible everyday schedule to optimise your floorball performance and become as good a player as possible, which is the fundamental meaning of being a sportsman or woman.

In the future, after having finished your sports career, you will realise the investment you have done earlier. All the top athletes are ambitious and diligent, but we believe that these traits and ways of doing things will not disappear when quitting sports; you must just find new ways of using them. Having a university degree, a history of participation in team sports and perhaps even some work experience on the CV is a good way to kickstart your working career. No matter whether you get good, moderate or no compensation at all from floorball, lots of new challenges are awaiting you after your sports career and it is wisest to get prepared for them already now.

How do you combine both study & playing at an elite level?

Being both an elite athlete and a student at the same time is not always easy. Sstudying itself can already be demanding in many ways and it requires a lot of time and effort - it may also involve moving away from home to a place that is far away from your family and friends. At this point, some players may wonder if they should choose between floorball and studies – we encourage to choose both. Even though it is probably not the easiest path to select, we can guarantee that it is possible to be successful at both scenes. Completing your studies might take longer than it takes for your fellow students, but it does not matter that much keeping in mind the unique capabilities you have acquired during your career in high-class team sports.

Second, combining sports and studies requires lots of planning and scheduling. Weekday evenings, sometimes even mornings, are spent in training sessions, while weekends are spent in matches. However, this does not mean that you would not have enough time to complete everything. You must learn to focus your energy on the right area on the right time. When it is time to study, give 100 % for studying; when training, leave everything on the field. The easy way is to write down in your calendar the moments that are reserved for your studies and the moments that are reserved for floorball. You will notice that occasionally you will even have spare time for having fun with friends :) After creating realistic (!) schedules, it is also important to keep both your team and your university updated about where you are going. Overlaps and different troubles can be solved and flexibility is usually provided if you show that you are active and worth the extra arrangements. You might have to skip a class or an exam occasionally, but floorball is not an excuse to do your studies carelessly. Although absences may cause some extra work, your teachers will appreciate the effort you are willing to give as long as you do the work well.

To conclude, combining floorball with studies is about living in the present but seeing your life also in a wider perspective. It is about careful planning of your schedules and logistics, as well as about commitment, persistence and prioritisation. At this point, when we both are almost done with our studies, we are completely sure that it was worth the effort!

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