Student-athletes live in study halls and gyms, fieldhouses and boathouses, lectures and dining halls. Sometimes we show up to class in Spandex. Often we’re late to that same class because of pancakes. Yet, here we are, thriving. It takes a powerful woman, and you’re definitely one.
1. Ask for support
Coaches, teammates, athletic trainers, academic advisors, tutors — as an athlete you likely have access to more resources than almost anyone else on campus. If you struggle to find time in the day for work or sufficient sleep ask your coach to help alleviate your schedule. Often you can achieve a strong academic standing and show up to practice well-rested with a plan of action and time to make adjustments.
2. Find your mantra
Practice can suck sometimes. You might miss sleep and feel overwhelmed about the midterm you have coming up. In those moments of anxiety, frustration, and pain it’s important to remember what motivates you. What made you commit to practices six days a week? What gets you out of bed at 4:30 AM? Find the words you need when you’re ready to quit: I am enough. I am strong. I am here.
3. Student before athlete
You’ve probably heard this before: you’re at college firstly to get an education. An athletic career can add value to your degree and instill with you a deep drive and dedication to whatever you set your mind on. Make sure you prioritize your studies so you not only get closer to your dream job and work towards your passion, but also meet all requirements to compete.
4. Be patient
I cannot emphasize this one enough. As an athlete part of a competitive college team, you’re constantly setting goals. 30 seconds less, 50 meters more, one foot higher. Work every day and within a month, a semester or a few years you’ll be slaying challenges that once seemed unattainable. Likewise, don’t push yourself past your limits when injured or sick. Be honest with yourself and take the time necessary to recover and come back ready to go HAM at the next opportunity to compete.
Respect is the foundation for any relationship, and your sport is a full-time commitment. Your team is integral to your success and you are integral to the success of your teammates. Be mindful of the expectations set among your team and your university for on and off the field. Alcohol consumption, missed practices, or a lack of open communication with your coach and team members can hurt your experience as an athlete. A team is only as strong as the day-to-day actions of every team member. Simply put, don’t talk shit about your teammates and aim for your best.
One of my favorite pieces of advice from my coach is to ‘eat what makes your body happy.’ You work hard and your body needs fuel. Treat yourself to chocolate milk after a tough practice and stock up on your fave protein bars (I recommend GoL). Remember, you need more calories than you would as a non-athlete. It’s always acceptable to have a snack in the middle of class.
7. Dial in
As much as we do, there are only 24 hours in a day. Success comes with dedication and intent. When at practice, be at practice. Focus on the task at hand so that the hours you put in are the best hours you can put in. Recognize when your mind wanders, relax and bring yourself back.
8. Use class time to stretch
Sometimes there just isn’t time in the day to take some space and stretch. If you’re taking fourteen hours of lecture a week, 10 minutes of self-care when your muscles are sore will do wonders for your body and help keep your brain awake during a long class.
9. Make time for the team
Practice is practice, and often a limited time for chatting. For strong team bonds it helps to get to know one another outside of the sport. Take the time to eat breakfast together or plan trips over the weekend. We all need support, and every athlete is motivated differently. You’ll find that practice improves when you understand what the day looks like for your teammates. Not only that, your team is basically a bunch of your best friends. Who else can you share rowing memes with?
10. Take pride in yourself
It takes tenacity to push your body and mind every single day without fail. Give yourself credit for all the times it wasn’t easy. You work so damn hard and all the validation you need is in that strong body, steadfast mind and exceptional resolve to balance the trials of being a student athlete.
Did I mention that you’re a badass bitch? You are doing the most you can do and totally kicking butt at it. Nothing looks more like success than a woman who knows what she’s capable of and unapologetically goes after her goals.