The Life Of A Collegiate Athlete

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The Life of A Collegiate Athlete

When you think of the typical student athlete you think of how lucky they are that they still get to play the sport that they love. They get all this publicity from big time media companies  such as ESPN, Fox, and other national television. Lastly, everyone looks up to them on campus and everybody wishes they were in their shoes.  What most people don’t think about is the student athletes intense preparation both on and off the field that is so time consuming.  Not only are they working hard on the playing fields, but there is a standard that is held off the field for academics that is extremely high.  This article will go into greater depths of the everyday life of a student athlete.  Luckily, in our class we have a few athletes and with the cooperation of one of our own group members, Cortney O’Connell of the Girls Varsity Soccer team, you will get to see what the life of a student athlete is like through her perspective.
During a conversation with her I asked her what a typical day was for her?
“She said that practice starts at 7 o’clock in the morning.  The first thing they do at the start of practice is weightlifting.  Starting the morning with a good weightlift is essential because it sets the tone for how the day of practice is going to be.  A good weightlift consists of an incredible amount of focus all the way from the senior captain to the third string goalie.  Luckily, we have great captains who do an excellent job of motivating our  team.  At about 7:30, weightlifting comes to an end and we start our actual on field training.  We start with a light warm up and stretching.   Despite being “light”, the warm up and stretching is probably the most important part of the training because it loosens our bodies up for our rigorous training regiment.  After our warm-up we get into small teams and play small-sided games to get our feet going.  We play all types of games such as 4 v 1, 1 v 1, 2 v 2, and partner juggling.  Just some light work to get some touches on the ball.  After about 5-10 minutes of that we get into the intense part of practice. We work on set pieces such as corners, free kicks, penalty shots.  These parts of practice can be a bit boring at times because there is quite a bit of standing around.  There is a lot of standing around because we are trying to perfect our set pieces.  Set pieces are crucial to perfect because one of them can help you win a game you are getting outplayed in.  Unlike other high scoring sports, sometimes you just need one to go in. After set piece we play risk reward games which means that you play games that if you win you don’t have to do running and if you lose you have to do some sort of fitness, whether it be running sprints or suicides or push-ups.  The games are always super intense and exhausting. Normally there are very few fouls called so at times the games can be a bit aggressive.  As a freshman it can be intimidating going up against our seniors but I never shy away from the challenge.  When things do get rough I don’t take it personal I see it as them trying to make me tougher and make better as a player.  After our risk reward games come the actual fitness part of our training.  Depending on the results of past games decides how much we run. If we have a few losses then the running will be a lot and if we win then the running isn’t nearly as bad.  After fitness, practice is over and at this time it is usually 10-10:30.  I am physically spent and yet so much of the day is left.”
Non-athletes take this part of the student athlete for granted.  Greatness has to start somewhere.  There is a lot of practice that goes into the development and success of an athlete.  They don’t just get results from being athletic, no they work incredibly hard throughout the week to get the results in games.  Cortney has been through the most strenuous part of her day before most people are up in college.  So many college student complain about the their work schedule and how much work they have.  Try having practice and team meetings for the first part of the day and being physically exhausted for your second occupation, being a student which is just as important if not more than your athletics.  Essentially, these kids are living double lives, athletes by day students by night.  
I then proceeded to ask her what the rest of her day was like.
“ After practice, I have class at 11 o’clock.  This is usually the toughest class of the day, because all I want to do after practice is go to bed.  When in class there is a struggle to stay awake and also focus in class being so tired.  After class, I have lunch which is the most important meal of the day for me as I need to regain my electrolytes and also give myself more energy for the rest of the day, as it is a long one.  After lunch, I have two more classes one at two and another at 5.  Not only am I drained physically, but my brain is fried as well.  If that doesn’t sound bad then I have a mandatory study hall session.  Being on a collegiate sports team it may vary how many hours you need per week, for the girls varsity team you need at least 8 per week. This is a usual day for me in a nutshell. Exciting isn’t it (she chuckles). “
    When you read this schedule, what first comes to mind is where is the free time?
How do you get any work done? Many students spend hours each day studying for tests or doing homework.  Athletes have just as much work as singular students but they are
Infinitely times more tired.  Nothing in life can remotely come close to preparing them for this.  There is so much to do in such little time.  Not to mention, where does hanging with friends fit in or what about relaxing in the dorm to take a nap?  In reality, student athletes don’t have the luxury that most students have.  They don’t have the ability to lie in bed all day if they want or eat all the junk food in the world.  Talking to Cortney and hearing some of the things she said surprised me.  In order to be one of these glamorous collegiate athletes you have to sacrifice a lot.  You have to sacrifice Saturday nights, days at the beach, small things that make college so fun for the typical student. It isn’t all fun and games when it comes to being a collegiate athlete.  
    However, in return for all this sacrifice you continue playing the sport you have loved and thrived in for years. All those years of hard work finally pay off and while most people hang up the cleats or equipment you are still competing at the highest level  

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