Junior Emily Shoup is one of the new additions to the LIU swim team — except she’s not quite new to LIU at all.
A student initially from LIU Post campus, Shoup’s move to Brooklyn comes as a result of the recent unification between the Post and Brooklyn campuses’ athletic programs.
The merger took full effect before the Fall semester began, relocating several sports teams to either campus. This decision forced some student athletes at both campuses to make a decision regarding their athletic and academic career: they could transfer to the other campus to continue their sport, move to another school, or quit their sport altogether and remain at their initial campus.
For Shoup, Women’s Swimming was relocated entirely to the Brooklyn campus, causing her to take a slightly different route.
Shoup’s major is a BFA in Theatre Design and Production with focus in Scenic Design — a degree that is not offered at the Brooklyn campus.
While also being a part of the swim team here at LIU, Shoup lives at the Brooklyn campus, while commuting between campuses for classes, taking classes for her major at the Post campus and taking her general education classes in Brooklyn.
Shoup described her typical schedule as having to travel to Post campus about three or four times throughout the week. On Mondays and Wednesdays, Shoup commutes on the Long Island Railroad to Post campus for classes in the morning and returns to the Brooklyn campus in the evening, anywhere from 5:00-9:00 p.m.
As a Theatre major, Shoup also helps with the production of student theatre performances at the Post campus.
Aside from commuting for her classes, Shoup also travels to Post campus for rehearsals and workshops for these performances, as well as her job on campus.
As the Set Designer for their most recent show, “Blue Stockings,” Shoup had to take the train to the Post campus on Fridays and Saturdays for several weeks for rehearsals. She also works as the Scene Shop Assistant in the theatre, where she works on Saturdays.
Due to her frequent travel, back and forth between campuses, Shoup has found herself paying a large sum of money for train tickets each week.
For a one-way train ride, Shoup pays about $10.25, and as she averages about three weekly visits to the Post campus, her total cost at the end of each week is about $60.
Shoup explained that the lack of transportation offered by the school is the biggest thing she is frustrated about, since the school initially mentioned having a shuttle to and from both campuses, but has not been provided.
“Transportation was the biggest thing that they didn’t really do for us,” Shoup said.
According to a FAQ on the athletics.liu.edu website, LIU claimed that student-athletes will be free to take classes at either or both campuses and that the school will provide assistance to any student-athlete who needs to travel from one campus to the other.
Despite these claims, LIU has not made any promises thus far, to compensate Shoup for her travel expenses, and she is still in the process of figuring out who she can talk to about getting reimbursed.
Commuting back and forth between campuses not only takes large amounts of money out of Shoup’s wallet, but it also forces her to miss practices with the rest of the swim team. To make up for her missed practices, Head Swimming Coach Matthew Donovan, sends her the workouts she misses, so Shoup can do them in the Post campus pool.
“It’s really thanks to Coach Matt that he’s been so lenient about letting me practice at the other campus, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do this,” said Shoup.
Besides the fact that she is still able to complete the same workouts as the rest of the team, Shoup shared the negative factors of having to practice alone.
“It sucks because it’s nice to have teammates and a coach there to help encourage you. I’m still getting the same workout in, but it’s just the social aspect that I’m missing, which is a bummer.”
Shoup’s commute between campuses keeps her busy almost all the time, leaving little time for her to spend with her friends and teammates.
“I definitely do not have as much free time as I did the past two years of college, so I think that’s been a little rough, especially since it’s a new team and the only time I connect with people is at practice. I’d like to get to know everybody better, but my schedule makes it harder.”
Because her schedule can get hectic, Shoup has managed to find her train rides as opportunities to regain her composure: “to take a deep breath and relax.”
“Sometimes it gets a little rough and I don’t really know what to do, but if I get too overwhelmed by it, I just need to take it day by day, hour by hour — don’t overthink it,” said Shoup.
Regarding her relationship with those at Post campus, Shoup expressed her disappointment about not being able to see her friends who were on the swim team there.
“I don’t get to see my old teammates anymore because when I’m at Post, I’m either working or in class, so I don’t see anybody outside of my major. It sucks because I was swimming with them for two years.”
This change has not only affected Shoup socially, but will affect her graduation as well.
Because Shoup is taking her major classes at Post campus, she will be participating in the commencement ceremony in 2021 at Post.
“It makes sense, but it’s a little strange because on the one hand I’ll be walking with everyone from my major, but the place I’m living at and my teammates — I won’t be walking with them. So it’s like I’m going to another graduation and that’s a little weird,” Shoup said.
-- In retrospect --
Looking back on the announcement of the athletic program merge, Shoup recounted what she considered one of the more difficult decisions of her life.
“I didn’t come to the conclusion to do [classes at both campuses] right away and I was freaking out. I had no clue what I was going to do.”
Shoup explained that when choosing a college before her freshman year, there were very few schools that would have let her swim and major in theatre, due to their demanding schedules. This made it even more difficult to find a school that could accommodate both athletics and academics, thus LIU was the diamond in the rough for her.
Despite her eventual decision to commute between campuses and stay at LIU, this choice was months in the making and was very difficult on Shoup.
During the decision process, however, the major constant that remained in Shoup’s mind was that there was no way she was done with her college swimming career.
“I could have just as easily not swam and kept my scholarship so that wasn’t a big part of it — I just wasn’t ready to be done with it. I wasn’t ready to quit. I feel like there’s so much more that I can do with my times and I just didn’t want to leave them where they were at,” Shoup said.
When it came time to make her decision, Shoup felt staying at LIU was the ideal choice for her, being that she also wanted to stay in New York, due to the many theatre opportunities in the city.
Although the Brooklyn campus does not have the complete “college campus environment,” Shoup explained that it is “nice to go back and forth because [she can] get both experiences. [She is] still able to get the college campus feel and I also get to live in the city.”
Throughout this part of her life, Shoup felt that her biggest supporters were her parents and Coach Donovan.
“From the day I called my dad that the merge was happening, my parents were like ‘whatever you decide we are going to back you up.’ And Coach Matt has been super great too. We’ve been in constant contact with each other and I could not have asked for a better coach in this situation.”
As a dedicated student-athlete, Shoup’s decision to commute between Post and Brooklyn campuses has not been easy, however she is managing to excel both in the classroom and in the pool — even if it takes an hour to get to either.
“Not swimming was not an option for me and that was my driving force. I think I definitely made the right decision,” Shoup said.