Student-Athlete? What does that even mean??
You sign your letter. You’ve just said yes to the team you will be playing for, for the next 5 years. I know those feelings. You’re beyond excited to get started and show off what you can do on the field. Training camp begins (which is about 2 weeks before school starts) and all that matters is football. It’s football 24/7 with the boys. What can be better than that?
And then boom...the first week of school starts and you are bombarded with the syllabi. Whether it’s 3 or 5 courses, your calendar quickly goes from athlete to student-athlete. You will begin to realize more each year that the term student-athlete is not thrown around easily. You are very much a student balancing sports in between academics. I won’t lie to you, it is one of the most challenging things you can do, and not many people realize just how hard it is. Most of the student body will have this fantasy that all athletes do is a workout, hang out in the locker rooms, and travel for games. What they don’t see are the countless hours in the library, in the books, on the laptops at the most random hours.
In my first semester, I started with 5 courses. Believe me, if I knew then what I knew in my 3rd year, things would have been crazy different in the first year. Within 2 weeks I was calling my brother explaining to him how deep in water I felt with everything. You’ve got workouts at 6 am, then treatment, then class throughout the day, film study at 3 pm (if you can make it), practice at 5-7 pm, and then some more film study. You’re home by about 9-930pm, and you think “finally I can relax”, but nope what about that essay and 2 assignments due in the next 2 days. Don’t forget to get at least 7 hours of sleep on top of that! With all of that being said, time management has to become a priority for you to be the best student-athlete you can be. Here are some tips I used during my 5 years to help with the workload of student-athlete life.
Calendars, calendars, and more calendars: This was such a saving grace for me. At some points, I had maybe no less than 3 calendars on the go. This way no matter where or what I was doing I always was able to add, remove, or remind myself of what I had coming up. Begin the calendar for the first week of each semester. Actually, look at the syllabus you get and write ALL dates on the calendars. Don’t just put assignments and tests on there, put each workout, practice and film study, date, drinks with friends. Don’t leave anything off of those calendars.
Plan out your week: With all of these calendars on the go, they are of no good if you just simply write down the assignments. Each Sunday night I would have a look at the week ahead and I would plan what I would need to either finish or work on each day. Stick to that plan and make sure you are allotting proper timelines for each assignment. You don’t need to have it planned to the second but make sure you understand what needs to be done that day to stay on schedule and not be stressed to the max.
Don’t wait: Let’s say you get an assignment and once you read it over, it’s going to take you no time to do it. At this point you’re thinking ahh it’ll be easy, I can do that later. No. If it’s that easy, why wait? Do it as soon as you get it. There is no harm in doing it right away.
Maximize Study Hall: Study Hall was mandatory as a rookie and voluntary as a veteran. Halfway through my second year, I started going again. I would put my headphones in and get a ton done during that time. Don’t go hang out in the locker room, because let’s be honest, no work gets done in there This is allocated, supervised time for you to focus on nothing but your work and hold yourself accountable for getting work done in the academic environment.
Understand that being a student-athlete is a privilege: There is a reason you are called a student-athlete. The athlete's side of your experience can be taken away in the blink of an eye. Don’t let bad academics ruin that. You got into the school because you are smart and you have the brains. Don’t let poor time management, something that is easily worked on, take away the fun you get by being a student-athlete. Playing on Saturdays is your reward for putting your head down and being a proper student-athlete.
Now that may be a lot to take in, but trust me when I say that being a student-athlete is truly a privilege. I wouldn’t trade my right arm for that experience and the tough times as well. If you need help with time management, go ask one of the seniors. If you are good with time management but you need some help with the courses, don’t be afraid to ask about a tutor. Those around you are there to support you in getting to walk across that stage and walk out, with your family on Senior’s Day. Enjoy the experience, enjoy the tough times, and always remember that being a student-athlete is a privilege that you do not want to be taken away.