Campus Spotlight: The Day in the Life of Student-Athlete Gianna Forte

Playing two sports—or at the very least, even just one—for a D1 school like the University of Florida is definitely no walk in the park. Yet first-year student athlete Gianna Forte seems to be able to do it all.

Gianna is a freshman from Jacksonville, Florida, majoring in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology. After completing her studies and graduating UF with a bachelor’s degree, she plans on becoming a physical therapist in the future. This fall semester, Gianna is running for UF’s cross-country team and will run track during the spring semester in 2020.

Despite her packed schedule, I was very fortunate to gain much insight from Gianna on her current day-to-day life as a student athlete and her future plans beyond UF.

In your senior year of high school, why did you end up choosing to sign for UF’s athletics instead of the other schools you’ve had offers from?

I was fortunate to attend the same high school as Gianna and it’s incredible to imagine that I will spend another four years watching her grow into an even more phenomenal, well-rounded individual.

In high school, Gianna ran her overall best personal record (or PR) for a 5K cross country race at 18:23, an impressive time that attracted many schools.

She had received offers from various universities to run for them, including the University of Miami, Arkansas State University, Georgia Southern University, and Jacksonville University.

However, she ultimately decided to run for the University of Florida for a few reasons.

“I chose to come to the University of Florida because of its exceptional academics and athletics,” Gianna said. “I also felt at home and excited for the opportunity to attend my dream school.”

What does your typical day of being a UF student athlete consist of?

Being a student at UF is already packed with responsibilities: going to class, completing homework assignments, finding time to study for exams, and participating in extracurriculars.

However, adding the schedule of an athlete on top of that certainly mixes things up a little.

Curious to know how her daily routine as a student athlete differs from mine as just a student, I asked Gianna what her typical daily routine resembles.

“My daily routine varies depending on when I have classes,” she said. “Some activities my day includes is morning practice, prehab (to prevent injury), weights, eating, classes, studying, weekly service projects, and participating in church (specifically St. Augustine’s) events.”

What’s the most challenging thing you’ve faced so far as a student athlete? How do you balance your academics with sports?

The role of a student athlete, especially for a D1 school, is a demanding one to play; there is no doubt about that.

To some, balancing academics is hard enough to do, so adding athletics in the mix brings a challenge that may seem Herculean for others.

While Gianna is certainly an extraordinarily talented individual, she is still human like the rest of us and has to deal with her own difficulties that come with being a student athlete.

Her struggles will certainly sound familiar to the rest of us: “The most challenging component of being a student athlete is juggling the time I have to do everything,” she said. “I have to make sure I prioritize what needs to be completed before moving on to other hobbies.”

What’s your favorite thing about being a Florida Gator?

Attending UF was one of Gianna’s biggest dreams and she was certainly thrilled when she found out she was accepted into her dream school and was going to run for them.

She has definitely been taking advantage of her time here at UF experiencing college life to the fullest and she shared with me some of her favorite reasons why she loves being a Florida Gator: “There are a lot of things that I love about being a Florida Gator. Some include having the opportunity to experience such a high caliber environment both academically and athletically, hanging out with my team, attending football games, creating bonds with those at my Church, and representing the University of Florida.”

Any advice you can offer for aspiring Florida Gator athletes?

Looking back on her time in high school and seeing what she had accomplished both academically and athletically, Gianna is most definitely a role model for any student athlete aspiring to continue athletics in their college career.

After asking her what advice she can offer to students who are aspiring to become an athlete for UF, she said: “[The] advice I would give to those looking to continue athletics in college is to set a goal and persevere to reach it. Definitely do not give up and look to those close to you for support along the way when things seem to be straying from your plans. Also, take time to breathe, enjoy where you are, and realize how far you have progressed from when you first began.”

For anyone who is fortunate to meet Gianna, whether it may be in a class you may share with her or if you pass by her during one of her runs, take her passion, work ethic, and grit as an inspiration to work hard towards your own dreams.

Of course, this does not apply to just student athletes, but rather anyone who wants to achieve their goals in any field. Gianna is just one of the many people who have worked hard to get where she wanted to be—and you can do it, too!