Jason Kelly | Spring 2017
Claire Gallerano VeNard ’07 knows from experience that the term student-athlete needs more than a hyphen to hang together in a meaningful way. VeNard played soccer at Notre Dame, a claim on her time and energy that restricted other opportunities — internships, study abroad — that have become commonplace college rites of passage.
Students fan out, overseas for a semester or a year, to professional apprenticeships for the summer, acquiring life experience, assembling resumes, accumulating contacts. Athletes train.
Even the routine rhythms of the academic calendar move at a quickened pace for the 740 athletes who are also Notre Dame students. A recent women’s rowing workout included intense training on indoor machines that left one team member doubled over from exhaustion. The session lasted from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. The wiped-out rower had a chemistry test at 6.
“That’s their reality,” says VeNard, who lived it herself as an American Studies major and aspiring law student while playing midfield for national-championship contending teams.
The unrelenting responsibilities of school and soccer left little room for extracurricular exploration. One day on the way to class, VeNard spotted a flyer promoting a six-week summer internship in Ireland.
It was perfect: a chance to go abroad, a job with the Olympic Council of Ireland and brief enough in duration to be feasible in the weeks before her senior season. At that time, though, there was no formal, institutional support for an athlete to take such a trip.