A Day in the Life

man dribbling a basketballStudent-athletes Hunter Maldonado and Hailey Zuroske share their secrets to success. 

By Micaela Myers 

The University of Wyoming is home to a number of Division 1 athletic teams, including basketball, football, cross country, track and field, swimming and diving, golf, tennis, volleyball, soccer and wrestling. It’s no easy feat being a student-athlete. Here, two student-athletes share how they achieved success on and off the field. 

Basketball Player Hunter Maldonado

Hunter Maldonado is one of the most decorated basketball players in Cowboy history, becoming the first player to earn Mountain West Player of the Week three times in the 2021–22 season. He was also named Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and named First Team All Mountain West. This season, he became the only college basketball player to have 1,500 points, 600 rebounds and over 550 assists. For the Cowboys, Maldonado is the all-time leader in games played and starts.

His off-the-court accomplishments are just as impressive: Maldonado earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and finance and is now working on his master’s degree in finance. He also recently completed an investment analyst internship with the UW Foundation.

“It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot,” he says of the experience. “I was very appreciative to be able to do that.”

Maldonado grew up in Colorado Springs and leaped at the opportunity to play for UW. He finds Wyomingites welcoming and genuine.

But succeeding in a demanding major while excelling on the court hasn’t been easy.

“You have to have really good time management skills,” Maldonado says. “You have to stay on top of everything. You have to plan your week out ahead of time. When I was taking six classes a semester, I’d wake up, go to weight training, then to practice, then sit in class for several hours, then go home and do homework and study.”

He says other students may not realize the amount of time that goes into being a student-athlete. On top of games and practice, they have to review film, weight train and do many other things behind the scenes.

Maldonado plans to play basketball as long as he can and then transition into finance. The No. 1 thing UW has provided him, he says, is many positive connections: “Being here for six years, I’ve met a lot of people. That has put me in a good position for my future.”

women playing volleyball in front of a crowd
Hailey Zuroske playing volleyball against Fresno State.

Volleyball Player Hailey Zuroske

Hailey Zuroske just completed her senior year of eligibility in volleyball. Last fall, she was named to the College Sports Communicators All-District Team and finished the season as one of only two Cowgirls to appear in all 120 sets, with 442 digs (averaging 3.68 digs per set), a mark that ranked her fourth in the Mountain West. She also led the team with 29 aces in 2022.

Like Maldonado, Zuroske chose a challenging major and is now in the graduate student portion of her pharmacy degree.

When she first visited Laramie from her hometown of Omaha, she fell in love with the beauty, friendly culture and the state support for UW Athletics. She soon learned that support included her professors, who went out of their way to accommodate her demanding travel schedule.

“It’s always been my dream to be a pharmacist,” Zuroske says. “The support I’ve gotten has been amazing. The travel weeks are the hardest, because I had to make up the classes I missed. Also, it was a lot of studying on the road, which wasn’t easy, but it was something I became pretty good at.”

Her schedule during volleyball season often included weights in the morning, then home to pack for the day, then four hours of class, study time, then practice.

“Something other students might not realize is how much you have to give up,” Zuroske says. “Your priorities have to be school and volleyball. I had to focus to maintain good grades. My break was going to practice. It’s hard to balance all that.”

One of her highlights was helping coach children’s volleyball camp each summer. “I love interacting with the kids who come to our games,” Zuroske says.

Her advice to incoming student-athletes is to schedule everything, including fun time with friends.

“I would say to challenge yourself,” Zuroske says. “You can do anything.”

Contact Us

Institutional Communications
Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-2929
Email: cbaldwin@uwyo.edu

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