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The Varsity

The University of Toronto's
Student Newspaper Since 1880

A week in the life of a Varsity Blue: Alex Hill

Varsity Blues men’s basketball player Alex Hill discusses a week in the life of a student athlete

By William Deck
Published: 12:21 am, 4 November 2013
Vol CXXXIV, No. 09 under

Alex Hill is no stranger to a busy schedule. The Varsity Blues basketball star manages to balance a full-time course load, a social life, free time, two games per week, and six days of training per week. Some games take him and his team on long journeys across Ontario and, sometimes, to farther parts of the country.

This past Saturday, Alex Hill scored a career high 35 point game in 93–85 win over Brock. MICHAEL CHAHLEY/THE VARSITY

This past Saturday, Alex Hill scored a career high 35 point game in 93–85 win over Brock. MICHAEL CHAHLEY/THE VARSITY

Hill’s basketball commitments have him training six days a week, from Monday to Saturday. He participates in two-hour practices from Monday to Thursday and light practices on Friday and Saturday: the Varsity Blues’ game days. Additionally, he takes part in individual practices four days a week, and has weight training peppered in
throughout the week.

To most U of T students, balancing a full-time course load with an even bigger commitment to a Varsity Blues team would seem to be nearly impossible; however, Hill’s experience in doing just that over the years has made him an expert in time management. That said, Hill recognizes that if he were in a more intensive program, achieving such a balance might be harder to achieve.

“It’s been engrained with me because I’ve been an athlete my entire life, so coming to university, it hasn’t really changed, and also, because I’m not in Engineering or Life Science, I don’t have a ridiculous amount of class every week. I generally have eight to twelve hours of class a week,” explained Hill.

However, Hill notes that the season can get especially hectic at times when his schoolwork becomes very demanding.

“At times it’s challenging, when you have three papers due in two days, on top of practice,” he explained.

“I spend more hours a day playing basketball than I do in class. My basketball commitment at this university is more than my class commitment, so I guess that’s the most difficult thing,” he continued.

In addition to 16 hours of practice and training and two games per week, a large portion of Hill’s time is spent travelling with his team to various places — mainly in Ontario, but occasionally outside of the province. This season, the Blues will travel at various times to Sudbury, Ottawa, Sault St. Marie, and Thunder Bay. So far this season, the Blues have been to Montreal and Saskatoon.

Nevertheless, Hill uses the time spent travelling to do readings and schoolwork, so as to minimize the effects on his academic pursuits.

“The bus is big for doing homework and essays. A lot of us do our readings and our work on the bus trips, because when we do take a bus it’s to Ottawa, to Sudbury, to Windsor. Even if we’re on the bus for an hour, that’s one hour where you could be getting work done,” said Hill. “I’ve definitely taken advantage of that in the past.”

One strategy that Hill uses to give himself free time during the week is to finish large chunks of reading and homework at once, so as to not have those responsibilities on other days. By developing an organized system to complete his studies, he has allowed himself to have lots of free time, which may seem surprising to many U of T students.

“It’s not actually that busy. It all depends on how you portion out your work. Tuesdays and Thursdays I’ll do my readings for 5 hours to get them out of the way, so that I can hang out on Wednesday nights and Saturdays after my games,” he explained.

In terms of nutrition, Hill likes to keep an eye on his diet so that he can be in the best shape possible come game day. Although he has been a healthy eater for much of his life, he says that staying on top of it can be difficult, especially during road trips  — when fast food is sometimes the only option.

“I’ve always been big on my diet. I don’t really eat fast food, but it’s tough on the road because we get a certain amount of money, but it doesn’t completely cover costs for food, so we normally tend to buy the cheapest stuff, which is often fast food,” he explained.

During his free time, Hill prefers activities that allow him to relax and take his mind off of his academic and athletic engagements.

“I’ll read a book, watch some tv shows in my spare time. I just kind of relax and let my mind go blank for the time being,” he noted.

Such activities and time management strategies have allowed him to excel both as a basketball player and as a student. Hill will graduate this year with a degree in American Studies.