It’s 7 a.m. on a cold January morning, and the shrill cry of an alarm breaks the silence in sophomore Derryk Williams’ Circle Apartment. He leans over to turn off the source of the clamor — his cue to crawl out of bed. He throws on his Ithaca College sweatshirt and a pair of sweatpants and unzips his backpack. He scours the room looking for all the things he will need for the long day ahead of him.
Williams begins the daunting task of filling his pack.
First the textbooks.
Then the tennis racket.
His Ithacapella jacket, of course.
Can’t forget the President’s Host polo.
And last but not least, his whistle.
He heads out the door — a door he knows he won’t return to for another 16 jam-packed hours.
In addition to being a member of the varsity tennis team, the television and radio major from Lansdale, Pa., participates in many activities. He is a member of both the club volleyball and golf team, he is a tenor in Ithacappella, a referee for girls’ junior varsity and modified basketball in the Tompkins County area, a President’s Host in the office of admissions and an intramural sports supervisor.
Men’s tennis Head Coach Bill Austin said Williams’ involvement is uncommon.
“He is experiencing everything that Ithaca College has to offer,” Austin said. “Most of us go through college and we’re lucky to be involved in one or two and possibly a third thing maybe on the periphery. This guy is deeply involved and an integral cog in the machinery that makes this place go.”
Williams arrived at the college without being recruited by Austin. With two years of tennis experience in high school under his belt, Williams tried out for the team as a walk-on and made the squad.
Last year, Williams went 3–2 in doubles competition, and his victory alongside Justin Levine was the deciding factor in the team’s win over St. Lawrence University.
Williams said making the tennis team was what triggered his desire to try other things. That same year, Williams tried out for club volleyball and golf, applied to work as a President’s Host and began training as a referee.
“When I was accepted on to the team right away, it gave me the confidence to do other things and to be more involved,” Williams said. “I really think things would have played out differently had I not made the team.”
Williams attends class from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., throwing in an hour or two at work in the office of admission. From there he heads to tennis practice, followed by Ithacappella rehearsal and finally club volleyball practice. Occasionally, he spends some time in the intramural sports office and officiates a middle school basketball game or two into his day.
“By the end of some days, all I want to do is go to bed and sleep for an extremely long time,” Williams said.
Williams said the need to juggle a schedule and set aside time to focus on an individual task has improved his grades and performance in all of his activities. Cody Ripa, Ithacappella President and Williams’ roommate, has seen the daily struggle Williams must go through to give his all in everything he does.
“Derryk rarely misses rehearsal,” Ripa said. “He's a busy college student but prioritizes his work, completes what he needs to and always shows up ready to work. There are occasional moments of stress due to his workload, but Derryk rarely lets that interfere with his involvement.”
Williams came into Ithacapella in a similar fashion as he came in to the tennis team — as an unexpected addition. He auditioned without much experience in the field of music, but that did not discourage him. Williams said he needs to put in effort outside of practice to catch up to his peers, a group primarily made up of music majors.
“I’m not the strongest musician, so I have to work twice as hard as the guys that study music,” Williams said.
Williams has received satisfaction from his efforts in his activities so far in his college career. However, there is no sugarcoating how much time and effort goes into his daily routine and the sacrifices that have to be made to live this lifestyle.
“I find myself getting very frustrated at times and feel like I’m just running from thing to thing, around a schedule rather than enjoying everything,” Williams said. “But in the end I know it is worth it.”
His schedule greatly impacts the time he spends with friends and his ability to focus on family and relationships, Williams said. His friends said they have felt the effects of his schedule.
“Derryk was one of my first friends here at IC,” sophomore Annie Barrett said. “Last year we lived in the same building and spent time together nearly every day. Now I hardly see him at all. This year has proven more difficult with his participation in everything. ”
While Williams would like to spend more time with his friends, he is thankful that they still make the time to support him in his endeavors.
“It’s really great that my friends are always there for me, however it’s tough for me to not be there for them all the time,” Williams said. “At one point last semester there was a time that I realized I hadn’t hung out with my friends in over three weeks. I’m a social person and not being able to spend time with my friends is the most frustrating thing to me.”
While the perils of a time crunch have affected his relationship with friends, Barrett notes he is a source of compassion when others need it most.
“It’s a bummer, but he’s the type of friend that if you need him, he’s there in a heartbeat,” Barrett said.
Williams said he must take advantage of the opportunities now while they’re in front of him. In spite of the sacrifices, Williams has no regrets about how he is experiencing college.
“I love every single thing that I do, otherwise I wouldn’t be wasting my time with it,” Williams said. “I wake up every morning and look forward to five different things, how many people can say that?”