Lessons Learned as a College Student-Athlete
A college student’s schedule fills quickly with classes, homework, studying, and more. Not much time is left for extracurriculars, so students have to be selective when it comes to how they spend any extra time they’re left with. While most students choose to spend these small amounts of time taking on new hobbies, joining clubs, or maybe even partying, I don’t exactly have the luxury to fully embrace some of these opportunities. I decided at a young age to commit myself to athletics and after many years of hard work, I accomplished my goal of becoming a student-athlete by being fortunate enough to join my university’s NCAA water polo team.
As a high school student-athlete my days were long and filled with morning practice, classes, afternoon practice, plus each day’s homework and studying. I thought this would prepare me for the brutality of being a student-athlete in college, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. In college, my schedule is ever-changing with different times for morning swims and lift sessions, classes, and travelling to games almost anywhere in the state on any given day. It makes the routine I had in high school seem almost comfy. To be honest, sometimes it gets overwhelming trying to plan ahead which days to sleep in, when I have assignments, and all the little things in-between. However, it is days like these when I know that I am able to make the most out of my experiences and grow as a student, athlete, and person. I have learned a lot of lessons from athletics and want to encourage those considering the same by sharing a few.
Possibly the most valuable skill as a college student, budgeting time has become second nature to me. For example, I have found that I am my most productive during the early mornings when my brain is fresh and clear and before the fatigue from afternoon practices set in. Additionally, I have learned how important it is to be productive during the small gaps in my schedule so that my work is more spread out and doesn’t need to be done in one long sitting.
Discipline and Sacrifice
Being disciplined is no doubt the most difficult task to exhibit while in college. With there being an endless amount of distractions each week, it is almost shocking that students are able to get anything done at all. Being a student-athlete has taught me that no matter how convenient it would be to skip class and take a nap or how tempting a party the night before a game may be, if I take a minute to contemplate my goals both academically and athletically, I am able to make the right decision and go to class or go to bed early so that I am well-rested for the next day.
Living a Balanced Lifestyle
Living a balanced life is, in my opinion, one of the keys for making the most of the opportunities given to you and is different for every person based on their personality and goals. For me, being a student-athlete provides great balance to my life as it compels me to eat healthy, exercise consistently, and allows for time to spend engaging with my peers.
Friendship and Teamwork
Perhaps the most cliché thing an athlete would say is how much they value the friendships they’ve been able to make through their sport. And although it’s common to hear, it’s also true. Being a member of a team instantly makes you a part of this giant new family that shares all the experiences, both high and low, that you go through, resulting in unbreakable bonds that endure throughout college.
Although the extra baggage of being a student athlete does interfere with some of the more typical college activities, the benefits taken away have far outweighed all of the other opportunities I may have missed out on as a college student. Using these skills, I am able to make the most of every opportunity before me and be the most productive, healthy, and happy version of myself. If you are considering participating in a sport in college, whether it is for your school’s team, club team, or even intramurals, I highly encourage to do so because there are benefits that come from being part of athletics.