Summer has officially started, so what does that mean for student athletes? It’s time to relax, kick your feet up, and binge watch shows on Netflix, right? Hardly! If you are like me when I played volleyball, you’re trying to find ways to evaluate your game, so there are no off days. Every ounce of my free time went into training for the upcoming season. In my mind, my position wasn’t guaranteed. There was always an underclassmen gunning for my spot. Student athletes have different responsibilities over summer break, especially for incoming freshmen – aka the newbies. Your coaches and athletic trainer will provide a strict summer workout schedule and you will be expected to follow it because you’ll see those drills during preseason.

Take my advice. Do not, I repeat, do not slack off during summer break and neglect your summer workouts. Let me paint a picture for you. During my first day of preseason at Charleston Southern University, I was anxious yet excited because I was a JUCO transfer so I felt like a freshman on campus and still had to prove myself. Our schedule: conditioning workouts usually on the track at 7 AM, team breakfast, volleyball warm up and drills, team lunch, weightlifting, and finally team dinner. After, if you had an ounce of energy left, team bonding which consisted of watching movies, going out to dinner, or games in someone’s dorm room. It was a grueling schedule that would last for two weeks. Also, if your coaches felt generous, meaning if they felt the team wasn’t giving 110 percent, two or three-a-days can turn into four-a-days!

Plus, my favorite part, mandatory ice baths every day after practice to reduce soreness. If you were a setter or hitter, the trainers required us to soak from the neck down. The water was so cold and your body became so numb that the water felt warm. Once we all got out of the small pool, our trainers handed us BANa, a sports drink to rehydrate our body. Now imagine drinking a glass of water with a half cup of salt and a hint of strawberry flavoring.

Of course, you can choose to not train during summer break, but you will pay for it. Not only will you be out of shape, but you’ll risk not playing during the regular season or losing a scholarship. If you don’t train over summer and come into preseason and season out of shape, it is not easy to hide.

I was that teammate who enjoyed preseason and looked forward to making volleyball my top priority. My only job was to play volleyball, eat, and sleep – period. Besides playing professionally, when will you ever have that type of schedule again? It gave me a chance to bond with my teammates and experience being on campus before anyone else.

Summer doesn’t have to be all work and no fun. As a student athlete, you have to learn to have a good time and take advantage of free time. After all, you’ll be in college and need a break just like any other student.