Quick Crossovers
By Diego Abeloos
Photos by Owen Main

Ever wondered what it’s like to walk in the shoes of a Cal Poly student-athlete for a day? Recently, fifth-year senior Devin Stanback, a starting forward for Cal Poly’s Women’s Basketball team, shared what her weekday game schedule looks like.

7 a.m.

Setting the Tone

While most days start with an early-morning practice, game day allows Stanback to sleep in until a luxurious 7 a.m. As is her ritual most mornings, Stanback reads through a Christian book of inspirational quotes to help set the day's tone.

Sustenance is the next order of business. On most days, breakfast boils down to grabbing a quick bowl of cereal before heading out the door. But on game day,with a few extra minutes to spare at home, Stanback whips up a hearty meal — her go-to is eggs, avocado, toast and bacon.

7:45 a.m.

Practice Makes Perfect

Once on campus, Stanback heads to team trainer's table to get taped up before hitting the floor at Mott Athletic Center for the morning shoot-around. On most days, the team will practice for two hours in the morning, followed by a one-hour weight-training session.

"Usually we do a lot of shooting and then we'll go over the other team's plays," Stanback says. "We'll walk through it and make sure we know what to look for and how to guard their best players."

It's a daunting schedule, arranged as closely as possible around players' classes. While this may be commonplace at Cal Poly, it's rare among many other Division I athletic programs, notes Women's Basketball Head Coach Faith Mimnaugh.

"Many athletic programs guide their students to majors that fit into their practice schedule rather than allow the student to determine their own academic pathway," says Mimnaugh. "This is a distinctly different practice at Cal Poly."

9 a.m.

Switching Gears for Class Time

Stanback's Tuesday and Thursday schedule calls for her to cram five hours of class and lab time into a six-hour block. A constant challenge is the mental grind of switching gears from basketball to the classroom. "It's probably one of the hardest things -to go from practice straight into class," she says. "I'm tired because I give 100 percent in practice -and really, you should be dead tired if you give it your all."

That hurdle hasn't stopped Stanback from succeeding academically, however. In 2017 and 2018, she earned Big West All-Academic Team and Conference Commissioner's Honors and plans to attend graduate school to become a physician's assistant. Last summer she took a medical internship at Stanford Hospital – at a time when her team typically holds summer training camp. Mimnaugh submitted a letter of recommendation on her behalf.

3 p.m.

Back into Basketball Mode

With precious few hours to herself, Stanback uses her time after class to relax and get her mind right before a game. She's headed back to the trainer's room for some extra therapy to deal with a knee injury she sustained earlier this season.

"I'm getting ready to go for the game physically and mentally, I'm going over scouting reports and I'm eating, because I don't want to get hungry during the game," she says.

Zach Reed, an academic advisor for Cal Poly Athletics, noted that multitasking and optimizing limited time is the key to success for student-athletes, especially during the season, with additional travel, practice and game obligations. "Successful student-athletes develop time management skills by organizing each day with structure and consistency," he says.

7 p.m.

Game Time!

Following a two-hour pregame warmup, Stanback's favorite part of the day has finally arrived.

"There are just so many emotions that you feel when playing," says Stanback, the team's leading scorer at slightly better than 11 points per game. "I'm not thinking of anything outside of the game, what I have to do and what our team needs to do."

The entire experience -from pre-game introductions to tip-off and beyond -still gets Stanback excited, even now in her final season. "I love hearing my name called during pregame introductions, I love warmups with the team and getting hyped with everyone -all of that is just really fun to me," she says.

9:30 p.m.

Post-Game and Homework

After hours of basketball, Stanback has a few post-game duties, including a team meeting and media interviews.

Finally back at home, Stanback eats a quick snack and then gets down to one last task -homework. "Especially being a science major, it's never just 30 minutes to finish an assignment," she says. "It's two or three hours on one homework assignment."

It also means shifting her now-tired mind one more time and prioritizing what little time is left in the day. "Devin has been successful because she organizes her hours in the day to optimize her study time, basketball preparation and practice," Mimnaugh notes. "She has positioned herself well to be successful largely because she is intelligent, determined, organized and hard working."

Mustang Graduation Success

By the Numbers

sports graduate more than 90 percent of their players
sports, including women's basketball, graduate 100 percent
overall graduation rate across all sports
increase in athletics overall graduation rates over the past eight years

12:30 a.m.

Wrapping Up the Day

Stanback usually cuts things off and heads to bed no later than 12:30 a.m., no matter how much homework she's completed. "I've gotten up at 4:30 a.m. plenty of times to finish my homework assignments."

In spite of the demands on her time, mind and body, Stanback says she's fortunate to be a Cal Poly Mustang. "I remember just walking around campus my first few months and thinking, ‘I'm so thankful to be here,'" she says. "I honestly wouldn't change a thing. This was definitely the right decision."