‘A Troy Bolton moment’: Students reflect on halting athletic careers

Matt Rogers, pictured right, is a sophomore screenwriting major and was a member of his water polo team in high school. Rogers is one of students The Panther spoke with who are enrolled in the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, yet chose not to pursue athletic aspirations at Chapman. Photo courtesy of Matt Rogers

Why do you fall out of love with a sport you’ve dedicated a large portion of your life to? At a certain point, you just believe it’s not for you anymore. That realization was pushed on a number of ex-high school athletes within the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman.

The Panther spoke with current students who were heavily involved in athletics in high school, but aren’t currently members of any sports teams on campus. Ultimately, when they enrolled, they felt they had to choose one love over the other.

Matt Rogers, a sophomore screenwriting major, found himself in a predicament as he toured the campus prior to his freshman year. A water polo player throughout high school, he’d received offers from Division I and Division II schools, but wanted to make his college decision based solely on his interest in film. Thus, he attended a recruiting trip for water polo at Chapman. However, the rigor of the screenwriting major – which requires 66 credits – convinced him to set aside any desire to continue his water polo career.

“I was talking to (other players) about the time commitment that they have and I was more thinking about what my major entailed,” Rogers said. “I decided that realistically, there’s no future in water polo and I just felt that I was better off focusing more on my academics.”

He’d thought Division III athletics would be easy to handle. Yet when Rogers came for his visit, he witnessed the amount of work players still put in and realized he had to make a decision. Meanwhile, Will Peters, a junior television writing and production major, was an offensive lineman for his high school team in Nashville, Tennessee. He harbored a deep passion for the sport, dreaming of one day playing Division I football. But once he attended a summer film camp after his sophomore year of high school, he realized he wanted to head to college for a different reason.

“It was a real ‘Troy Bolton’ moment for me,” Peters said. “I almost quit football after that camp. My dad said, ‘I think you would regret it. I’m not going to force you to keep playing, but I think that you’d regret not playing your upperclassmen years.’”

Peters did continue to play, but his dream had shifted to film.

“Going into my junior year, I realized that I didn’t think I could do both,” Peters said. “I remember talking to someone from Chapman’s admissions and they said that being in Dodge and playing football was nearly impossible.”

Nearly impossible – but not completely. One sophomore Dodge College student has made it work. Duncan Heger, a sophomore broadcast journalism and documentary major, is a linebacker on the football team and has managed to carve out time for both passions. He was warned of the difficulty of being a student-athlete within Dodge College, but never hesitated to pursue both interests.

“For me, I just took it as kind of a challenge,” Heger said. “I love football and film and I work hard in both and care a lot about both. You have to get more out of your day in order to balance them.”

He admits, it has made scheduling a little tricky at times – he hasn’t been able to take some of the night classes he’s desired, due to their interference with practice and workout schedules. But overall, Heger’s been happy with how he managed his time. Chapman provides a wealth of opportunities – especially within Dodge College. Students are inclined to make a decision as to what they want to dedicate their time toward. But, as Troy Bolton once noted, “You’ve got to get your head in the game.” For student-athletes entering one of the best film schools in the United States, it’s simply a matter of which game.