Down Time

June 4, 2003

They serve, dribble, bunt, tackle and jump, but off the fields of play, many of Baylor's student-athletes spend their valuable free time like other college students -- listening to music, shopping, visiting with friends. A few even have found more unusual hobbies to take their minds off the rigors of athletic competition.
Sophomore pole vaulter Brad Settles draws the most attention with his hobby: Etch-A-Sketch art. "My senior year in high school, my mom gave me an Etch-A-Sketch for Christmas," he said. "I left on a Young Life ski trip a couple of days later and took it with me. It was a 22-hour bus ride, and at the end of that, I was pretty good."
He entertains himself with the toy on long bus rides to track meets or while waiting for his event to begin. And it doesn't shake the graphic design major that his work is lost -- every time.
"When we were competing in the Big 12 indoor track meet, I was drawing the scene," he said. "I drew the runners and a guy competing in the hammer throw. Everybody passed the Etch-A-Sketch around and they were trying to be so careful that they didn't shake the drawing. Then they passed it back to me and I shook it up. They couldn't believe I did that."
Lady Bear center Melanie Hamerly shows some fancy footwork on the basketball court, but nothing compared to what she could show her opponents. The junior from Orange, Texas, won national clogging championships in both fourth and fifth grades. In the sixth grade, Hamerly left the dance studio for the basketball court, but one day would like to return to the hobby. "There is a clogging group in Waco, and they would like me to join them. I can't right now but would love to have the opportunity later," she said.
A quieter pastime for Hamerly, who is minoring in English, is poetry. "Not many people know I write poetry," she said. "It calms me down when I start writing. It gets my mind off basketball. I do it for my own enjoyment."
Lady Bear basketball player Dionne Brown, a senior majoring in English, likes to build model cars, and tennis player Zoltan Papp, who graduated in May with a business degree, often could be found in the kitchen baking. 
Ross Bennett can slug a baseball, but when the Bear first baseman is off the diamond he likes to tickle the ivories. Bennett, who just finished his senior season on the baseball team, took study breaks playing Bach or Mozart on a piano in one of the smaller rooms on the second floor of the student center.
"For me, music is a great stress reliever," said Bennett, who also practices on a full-size electric piano in his apartment. "I like to play classical music, which research has shown is good study music."
And he doesn't limit his talent to the keyboard. Bennett, along with teammate Mark Saccomanno, team manager Steve Brown, former teammate Ron Zboril and fraternity brother Tyler Wood, formed the band Pavilion in spring 2002. Bennett is lead vocalist for the garage band that often plays at team get-togethers. 
Bennett thinks hobbies are invaluable for athletes. "You can get too focused on whatever your sport is, and if that area starts to go downhill, then it can cause some negative feelings," he said. "You have to have something to counterbalance that."

Carlson is senior staff writer in media relations in the Baylor Office of Public Relations.