College lacrosse: Towson senior finds balance between academics and athletics
TOWSON, Md. – It's a well-documented fact that student-athletes live their lives in a chaotic schedule. Between classes, practice and even a job if there is time, there are obligations that must be balanced.
And while it would be easy to slack off now and then at any of those tasks, truly successful student-athletes find the balance.
With nearly a perfect grade point average, Towson University men's lacrosse player Tyler Konen has found that balance. Last semester, Konen put down a 3.79 GPA, nearly matching his cumulative mark at the University. The senior chuckled as he remarked on getting a B+ in a course last semester.
Of course his cumulative GPA was bolstered by a 3.918 during the Spring 2016 semester as Konen and the Tigers reached the NCAA Quarterfinals, won a Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) record sixth league tournament, set the program record for wins in a season (16) and spent the entire season ranked in the major polls.
Biochemistry class. Practice. Studying. Tutoring. And a run to the NCAA Quarterfinals. Jump over… https://t.co/98jQbFStii— TU Men's Lacrosse (@Towson_MLAX) February 9, 2017
Adding to the impressiveness of Konen's classroom accomplishments is what his major is: biology with a pre-med track. This is a light semester for the senior from Bridgewater, New Jersey, taking two classes: developmental biology and biochemistry.
With just two days of classes this semester, Konen finds time after practice a couple days a week to volunteer across Osler Drive at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays when he doesn't have classes. It's not his first stint volunteering in the area either. On the team's off days, typically Sunday last spring, Konen volunteered as a tutor at a nearby community college.
In his sophomore and junior years, Konen took what he calls his heaviest course load.
"I had two to three lab classes every semester, so that wasn't much fun with all of the anatomies and chemistries, like organic chemistry," said Konen of his early days at Towson. "Although I kind of like it, so it's not that bad."
Although sometimes Konen opts to stay in and get ahead on his work, he has found a way to balance his school work with his social life.
"If I keep to a strict study schedule, I can still hang with the guys so it's not too bad," Konen marked of his habits.
On the field, Konen, who has seen time at both midfield and attack, has continued to work on his game, improving his stat lines each season. In his rookie year (2014) he played in five games, scoring just one goal. In his sophomore year, as the Tigers won their first of back-to-back CAA Championships, Konen played in 14 games, piling up five goals and six assists for a then career-best 11 points. He came alive late in the season, scoring six of those points in the final five games of the year, including a pair of goals at No. 2 Notre Dame in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
"Hopefully he becomes a household name: Dr. Konen," said head men's lacrosse coach Shawn Nadelen. "Tyler is a young man that has a great deal of work ethic. He wants to be successful, whether it be on the lacrosse field, whatever role we ask of him … he wants to do what's best for the team."
Last season, Konen, played in 18 games, putting up six goals and nine assists for another career-best season of 15 points. The lefty attackman spread out his 2016 points throughout the year as the Tigers reached new heights Nadelen.
"I just try and help out wherever I can," said Konen of his versatility. "Wherever Coach (Nadelen) needs me, I'm willing to work."
After suffering a broken vertebra in high school, Konen attributes a bulk of his physical success to head strength and conditioning coach Kilee Taflinger, who works closely with the men's lacrosse team.
"It's definitely helpful," Konen said of the supervision in the weight room. "I had trouble squatting when I first came here, so she worked with me through it and taught me new techniques and I really got my squat (weight) up and that's helped with my leg strength. That's a big part of pushing against defensemen."
While it's never easy for any student-athlete to hang up the gear and dive into the working world, Konen has a plan for the future. Following his graduation from Towson, Konen plans to get into either sports medicine or orthopedics. With a lighter set of courses in the Spring 2017 semester, Konen is currently studying for the rigorous MCATs (Medical College Admission Test), which he will take right after the season ends, hopefully in late May.
"He's hard on himself, which I can see why he gets such good grades; because he is hard on himself," said Nadelen of Konen's drive. "He doesn't like it when he makes mistakes and trying to get him to push through that and be stronger through that adversity has been part of his maturation, and to become better through those challenging situations. Tyler is a great young man that we're very fortunate and excited to have in our program."
And maybe in the not so distant future, Dr. Konen will see you now.