When she is not busy with clinicals and exams, nursing student Lauren Zaworski can be found on the softball field as a member of the Loyola University Chicago women’s team.
“Because of the demanding time constraints of clinicals and class work, student athletes are rare in nursing,” said Nancy S. Hogan, PhD, RN, FAAN, distinguished professor and associate dean for research, Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. “However, Lauren is a model student and a great athlete who has the discipline and drive to balance it all.”
As an outfielder, Zaworski travels extensively with her team, which on April 24 was 23-15 for the season and second in the Horizon League. Her batting average was .340, with three home runs and 16 RBIs. Zaworski also led the team with nine doubles making this her best softball season at Loyola.
Off the field, Zaworski was named to the Horizon League Academic Honor Roll. She also was nominated for the Academic All-District Team of accomplished student-athletes with a 3.3 GPA or higher for the school year. The National Fastpitch Coaches Association also named her an All-America Scholar-Athlete in 2011, which requires a 3.5 GPA or higher.
“The nursing program is so challenging and a student athlete’s time is stretched with training, traveling, playing, and community service,” said Bill Behrns, assistant athletic director for communications, Loyola University Chicago. “Lauren is a remarkable kid who has been able to accomplish success both on and off the playing field. This is a testament to her strong work ethic and organizational and time-management skills.”
Most universities do not allow nursing students to participate in sports. However, Zaworski was drawn to Loyola for the resources that make it possible to do both.
“My coaches are flexible and stress that I am a student first and an athlete second,” Zaworski said. “I am grateful that they have allowed me to play while supporting my passion for nursing.”
On the days that Zaworski has clinicals, she reports to an area hospital at 5 a.m. and works until 3 p.m. She then attends practice or a game until 6 p.m. before completing a few hours of homework at night. This leaves little room for down time, but Zaworski feels lucky to be involved with both and believes her experience as a student-athlete will prepare her well for nursing.
“High-intensity situations are common in college athletics,” Zaworski said. “Softball has taught me to be calm under pressure, which will serve me well as a nurse.”
Zaworski’s nursing skills recently came into play when a teammate broke her nose and suffered a concussion on the field.
“My teammates turned to me for help, so I ran to get medical equipment to assist the athletic trainer,” Zaworski said. “Helping others and having compassion are among the reasons I chose nursing. These skills have come in handy both on the field and at the bedside.”