Areas of focus: Communication Studies and Business and Marketing Education
How does a stand-out college gymnast earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in just five years? Approach your sport and your academics with discipline and focus like Tiarre Sales (‘22).
Before she officially enrolled at the University of Minnesota, Tiarre was invited to tour the campus, watch the gymnastics team practice, and go to a football game. Luckily for us, it was a great experience. “I really liked the campus,” she says. “So it was just kind of like the best of both worlds, good academics and athletics.”
Growing Up in the Gym
Tiarre started doing gymnastics when she was just three years old. When she was around 11, she took a short break to avoid getting burned out. “I was trying to go the elite path which is working towards the Olympics, and it was just a really big commitment.”
Up until then Tiarre had been home-schooled to accommodate her gymnastics schedule. Not surprisingly, she wanted to spend time with friends, have a social life, and just be a kid. “With all the pressure and time commitment, gymnastics wasn't really fun anymore,” she says. She decided that such an intensive route was not the right one for her, so she went back to school.
Soon, though, she returned to the sport on her own terms. “It was definitely fun again, and I feel like I just excelled pretty quickly. I was competing at the highest JO (Junior Olympic) level in eighth grade.”
Finding the Right Fit
Tiarre competed at that level for over five years. She switched gyms, where they were very successful in getting girls' scholarships to Division 1 schools. Tiarre began to think about college but knew she would have to juggle practice and competitions along with her coursework.
"Don't be afraid to ask questions because everybody wants you to succeed.”
When she came to the University of Minnesota, she needed to create a schedule that would allow her to balance gymnastics and academics. Tiarre found a home at the Inter-College Program (ICP), where she focused on communication studies and business and marketing education. (The ICP major allows you to customize a BA or BS in two or three areas or on a specific theme that you develop with the help of your advisor.)
Her self-designed major in two focus areas “was the perfect duo.” She was able to build on the communication skills gained from previous classes and combine them with more professional coursework.
A Day in the Life
During the gymnastics season Tiarre practices about 20 hours a week. She’s in the gym from around 8:30 in the morning to 12:30 in the afternoon. On days when the team competes out of town, they spend one day traveling, compete the next day, and then return to Minnesota, where they have a day off and then start the cycle all over again.
“Yeah, it's definitely difficult,” she says. “Having a schedule helps with time management.” Thankfully, she works with her advisor and the coaches to come up with a practice schedule that will work with the girls’ course schedules.
“Sometimes people's classes don't work out, and we have to change the time, or they have to come into practice early and come back later. But we try to be together as a team the majority of the time.”
After practices, Tiarre typically comes home, makes lunch, then ices whatever part of her body needs attention. And then it’s time for school work: Tiarre is completing her master’s degree in learning technologies through the College of Education and Human Development, further evidence of her willingness to put in the time and hard work to succeed.
CI 5301 Foundations of Computer Applications for Business & Education with Jolie Kennedy
“Connecting with the material was really easy. And you also got to personalize each assignment to your interests and what you wanted to bring to the class.”
- “You’re not going to like every class, but the information and the knowledge you gain form a bigger circle, and I feel like it just gives you a better perspective. You learn a little bit more about yourself.”
- “Develop relationships with your professors and with your advisor.” Tiarre worked with both Josh Borowicz and Jeff Olsen Krengel, who “100% supported" her.
- “Utilize your resources in ICP. Don't be afraid to ask questions because everybody wants you to succeed.”
- “Take the time to learn about yourself and become more self-aware. It definitely just makes finding your role in life so much easier, and it gives you more confidence in what you're doing. Try new things, try not to say no to anything even if you think it's gonna not work out. Because you never know if you might like it or not.”
All photos courtesy of Gopher Athletics unless otherwise noted.