Commuter Athletes Balance Athletics, Academics and Life

Being a Division I student-athlete requires more than just a physical gift honed over years of practice and execution.

At the collegiate level, there is a call to the young men and women of the athletic department to achieve on the field of play, and in the classroom; an objective many students can readily achieve with all of their facilities in walking distance of their residence hall.

However, not every student athlete at a school like Manhattan College is that lucky. Due to its nature as a mid-major Division I school, there are many student-athletes who participate as non-scholarship “walk-ons”, and since the school is located in New York City, some of these students choose to commute from home for practical reasons.

Sophomore catcher Anthony Fanelli is one of the few commuter athletes at Manhattan College. Hailing from Astoria, Queens, Fanelli’s 25 minute commute is a commute he has been perfecting since his days at Monsignor McClancy High School.

“That when I had to start taking own responsibility on my own”, Fanelli said, “It definitely helped me grow up”

Manhattan’s baseball team either practices at 6:30 am or 3:00 pm due to availability, making what is already a treacherous schedule even more volatile. For Fanelli, a civil engineer, an exceptional level of preparation is required to be prepared for class and a changing practice schedule. Planning ahead on a regular basis with everything from catching bullpens to using computer software in Leo Hall is how Fanelli maintains with a 25 minute commute.

“It’s a great honor to play Division I athletics”, Fanelli said, “It can be overbearing to do both, but I find a way to manage.”

For many student-athletes, the pressure of participating in both academics and athletics becomes too overbearing. Anthony Yanni, a junior Javelin thrower on the Men’s Track and Field team, once lived a life similar to Fanelli’s.

“My day was jammed packed,” Yanni said, “between class, lifts, and practice I was running from Leo to Draddy and back without a chance to go home.”

Like Fanelli, Yanni’s experience commuting to Xavier High School in Manhattan helped to groom him for what he endured as a freshman. Similar to the way in which the 1 train operates in Riverdale, the F train is the only subway that ran near Yanni’s home in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. As his only lifeline to the city, and eventually Manhattan college, Yanni was able to learn a lot about himself during his hour-and-a-half long commutes to Riverdale during his freshman year.

“Commuting from Brooklyn is a humbling experience, makes you feel like a part of the city,” Yanni said.

In his second year, Yanni decided to make the move to Horan Hall. While it was pragmatically tough to do with his home so close, Yanni was able to feel comfortable around campus during his daily routine.

“I used to have lift in the morning, class, practice, and then a lab,” said Yanni, “and man would I walk into the lab smelling like a sin.

The move on campus was able to simplify his life, a move that would have the same effect on the life of any student-athlete struggling to maintain.