Jill Hub and Kira Melendez have a lot in common. They are both fashion design majors. They are both athletes. And they both left their Division I teams for fashion.
Jill Hub tried to walk on to the Marist Women’s Basketball team when she arrived in the fall of 2011 for her freshman year at Marist. The roster was full, but the team kept her on as manager with the expectation that she would try out next season when the position she played on the team was open.
As a manager, Hub lifted with the team, attended practices from 9:30 to 11 am six days a week and travelled with the team to games in places like Buffalo and Florida.
Melendez rowed on the Marist Women’s Division I Rowing team in the 2V event starting when she walked on to the team her freshman year.
Melendez woke up Monday through Saturday for 6 am practices in the Marist boathouse and on the river. As the weather got colder, the rowers moved inside to the ergometers. “We generally have a workout every day and a YOYO (you’re on your own) workout every day as well. We have to lift twice a week in our off season too,” she said.
Crew, according to Melendez, is one of the most competitive team sports as far as competition within the team itself. “We are constantly competing against our teammates in order to earn spot in the boat, which is very demanding as well as draining.”
“The commitment to any sport in college is like a full time job,” said Melendez.
The basketball season runs from October to March, taking Hub away from the studios and classes to travel to and practice for games. Fall and winter are the training periods for rowing “A.K.A. the most intensive parts of the sport,” according to Melendez. Competition season is in the spring for crew.
Fashion design is an intense major, with classes in apparel construction and portfolio building each semester, along with the traditional core classes, all culminating in three capping courses senior year. “Fashion is a full-time commitment,” said Hub.
Both said teachers were accommodating to their sports schedules but that they still ran into problems now and then. “. It’s just very hard to work around a fashion schedule. If teachers have something planned like fittings, runway ready reviews, or the fashion show and you have a commitment to your team it is very hard for them to be understanding. It is our responsibility to make it up even if it is something that is out of our hands,” said Melendez.
It was hard to keep up with school, said Hub, because she could not bring her homework along on bus rides. “Other majors can bring their textbooks on the bus and study, but I couldn’t bring my sewing or paints on the bus to finish my homework,” she said.
“There is so much to do in fashion, especially in our senior year. We have the lookbook and photoshoots in the spring on weekends. Since crew is a spring sport, I would be missing most of my crew meets in order to stick to my fashion curriculum. It seemed pointless to practice all year and get very little sleep and not even be able to fully commit to my team or show up to my races,” said Melendez.
Hub’s decision to leave the team came at the end of her freshman year when she realized that she was putting “50% into basketball and 50% into fashion.”
“I kind of realized that I’d never be great at either. Would I rather be happy for the next four years of my life [playing basketball] or the next 30 years of my life [in fashion design]?”
Melendez decided not to return to row her senior year, “because I was never sleeping and getting sick too much.” Fashion caused her to be up into the early hours of the morning working in the studios. Crew demanded she was up and practicing by 6 am. “Trying to manage both commitments and only sleeping an hour or two a night just became too difficult,” she said.
“I’m not planning on being a professional rower so I feel like fashion was the obvious choice. It was pointless to give up a profession for a college sport,” said Melendez.
When asked if anyone could do it successfully, Hub mentioned Marist Women’s Basketball All-star Rachel Fitz. Fitz was one of the best basketball players to come through Marist and lead the team during her seasons with the Red Foxes. “She made the choice to be the best basketball player,” said Hub,
Melendez says she thinks there could be success in doing sports and fashion design. “It would be really difficult and they would probably get very little sleep,” she said.
Melendez says the hardest part of leaving the team was saying goodbye to that part of her life. “My team was very important to me,” she said, “I miss being part of the team and I miss being able to have that in my life.”
“I especially miss being in shape,” Melendez said with a laugh.
“I definitely made the right decision in choosing fashion, although I do wish I could choose both. I miss being on the crew team, but I just don’t think I could handle the little amounts of sleep and amounts of work anymore,” said Melendez.
“Don’t get me wrong,” said Hub, “I don’t regret it, I just miss it. I loved the girls, the game, everything.”
“I didn’t leave with a bad taste in my mouth, I just left because I wanted to be good at one thing [fashion design],” said Hub.