Photo 8_copyWhen I was in college, hearing my alarm go off at 4:45 a.m. was the worse sound I’d ever heard. Knowing the snooze button was out of the question was the true icing on the cake, which deepened my hatred of early-morning practices. I know that “ball is life” but there has to be a point where you throw in the towel. After practice I had to run across campus, looking like a hot mess I might add, sweat glistening on my forehead. I barely made it to my 8:30 a.m. class, huffing and puffing trying to catch the little breath I had left. I could feel the eyes of classmates looking at me with horror because they had to sit next to the sweaty girl. In my head, I’m yelling, “No I’m not crazy, I’m just an athlete!”

Contemplating playing a sport in college is a huge decision for most students. For me, before I was a sophomore in high school, I knew that I wanted to play in college. As a student athlete there will be a lot of ups and downs, I will admit. Check out the list of pros and cons of playing a college sport:

Financial Need

Many students will play a college sport for the scholarship opportunity. However, many fail to realize coaches treat scholarship dollars like a paycheck. You never discuss your scholarship amount to other teammates. Why, you ask? Not everyone on the team has the same scholarship amount. Think about it in terms of basketball, Kobe Bryant doesn’t discuss his salary with other players on the team. Considering everyone knows that he makes the most on the Laker’s roster (for now). Some college athletes will have a full ride, while others are only offered book money. It’s just the nature of the beast.

Academics

As a student athlete, academics comes first. It is important to maintain your school’s GPA requirement or you might be on the bench or off the team if you fail to meet those standards. One good thing is the mandatory study hall either before or after practice. I know I sound like a nerd, but study hall helped me focus more on my schoolwork and I completed the majority of my homework which freed up some of my time. Plus, if you maintain the required GPA, your coach may let you out of study hall the next year.

Playing time

It is no secret that everyone on the team will not get the same amount of playing time. As a freshman, your position may be filled by upperclassmen. Freshman typically sit the bench and observe the games. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t start as a freshman. If you are a high-profile recruit and/or work incredibly hard during practice, your coach might call your number. My strong advice, be prepared to go in! Study and watch the game. If you sit on the bench, you have the perfect opportunity to learn from your teammates’ mistakes and see the entire game from a different perspective.

Sleep habits

As a college athlete you will eat, sleep, and breathe your sport. Your sleep patterns will fluctuate throughout the school year. There will be games that require late night bus travels with early morning classes the next day. The best thing you can do is plan ahead and map out your classes and games accordingly. Do not wait until the last minute to study on a game night. Trust me, after a game the last thing you want to do is study for an exam or read materials for class. Your adrenaline will be pumping too much to read Shakespeare’s Sonnets!

Dedication to your sport

It doesn’t matter if you’re the star or a practice player, you still have to give 110%. Everything you do, whether it is practicing, weight training, or even rehabbing an injury, you must do with a purpose. The end goal is to master your craft. It is an unbelievable feeling to have family and friends cheer your name, especially if you’re the fortunate player to make the game winning play or shot. As a player, you’re in a unique club. Most will never know what it’s like to play on a team with teammates who will ultimately become your family. If someone asked me if I would play in college again, that answer hands down would be yes!! Then I would continue to kick their butt in volleyball!

If you have any stories or advice for future college athletes comment below!