Being a collegiate athlete is a very unique experience that comes with many costs and benefits. Many people don’t realize the amount of time and dedication it takes to compete in college sports, all while being a full time student (and in many cases, working part-time). In most cases, people only associate positive thoughts when they see individuals spending so much time with their team, getting free gear, and traveling to cool destinations to compete and train, when in reality there are many sacrifices being made.
Being a student athlete can be tiring and stressful. Many people don’t think about the long hours spent practicing. Most college kids roll out of bed in their sweatpants and barely make it to class in time everyday. Sport players are often up at 5 a.m. for practice multiple times a week and complete intense workouts, shower, and eat breakfast before the even sun rises. They then head to class with their coffee and struggle to stay awake through the hours of lectures before heading back to practice again in the afternoon, which is longer and harder than it was in the morning. Most of the time, at that point, they are both physically and mentally exhausted but cannot clock out for the night before studying and completing necessary assignments.
For those who think training is limited to the months teams compete, they are wrong. Student athletes are always in season and have to train year-round to be able to perform at their best. That means constantly eating healthy, working out everyday and practicing technique to maintain skills, endurance and strength. If you want to be able to perform at your best, there is no off-season.
As an athlete, you are also under constant supervision from both coaches and professors. If you try to slack off in practice, your coach will scold you and give you a punishment set. If you are ever late for practice, the whole team will suffer. Outside of practice, your coach will emphasize that your academics come first. If you skip a class, your professor will most likely know you are on a team and notify your coach, especially if your grades are suffering. If your performance in class isn’t good enough, you will most likely have to sit out a meet or game.
Although it may seem like being a collegiate athlete is torture and you ask yourself why anyone would do it, ask an athlete and they will say it’s the best experience of their life. They do it because of their love for the sport and being able to accomplish their goals with the support of their teammates behind them. Playing a sport in college also prepares these students for life after college, by giving them many valuable skills such as time-management and leadership.
I was a college athlete and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Photo credit: Mallorie Dygert