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On Being a Student Athlete

Were you one of those kids that enjoyed being outside all the time? Did you love to play soccer or go swimming with friends, lived for your school’s lunch hour just so you could play kickball, and going to the after-school tennis lesson or baseball practice? And don’t you miss those days where sun-tinged cheeks were commonplace?

 If you were indeed one of these electric kids, you were probably always looking up to the bigger kids, when suddenly you were a ‘big kid’ yourself: graduating from high school and training hard to become a college student and athlete.

Congratulate yourself if you made it, give yourself a high five, heck—treat yourself to some ice cream! Be proud! If you didn’t make it into your university’s team, don’t get discouraged. Train twice as hard and study to keep your grades up. Attend the try-outs again next year and the year after that if you have to. As for becoming a college athlete, it might just be one of the best experiences of your young life. You will meet and become great friends with beautiful people, and you will learn that sometimes you have to sacrifice that late night hangout for some much needed sleep or to finish that last minute homework. As the saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility.”  Yes, you are receiving a scholarship. Yes, you are representing your college or university. No, this does not mean you get to slack off in the studying department. You have to remember that your grades are important, that your studies should come first, and that you have to maintain a minimum 2.50 GPA if you want to stay in the sport’s team. I know—this is where it gets complicated.

Once LAI (AKA Liga Atlética Interuniversitaria) begins, there are 1 to 3 games every week, and they might coincide with some of your classes. Your professors expect you to keep up with the class, and some might even have a problem with you being an athlete by assuming you think you need “special treatment.” Keep your head high; be responsible with your work and respectful towards your professor, and it will all be okay in the end. Your coach will also expect you to maintain a certain level of intensity. Don’t freak out—it is only for your own good. He or she knows the kind of potential you have and the kind of potential you can reach, this is the reason they picked you to become a part of the team. Breathe in and breathe out.

In the end, it all comes down to time management. Be organized. Train well. Eat well. Sleep healthy hours. Study hard. Accept that there will be days you feel like you might collapse from the exhaustion, from the pressure sitting on your shoulders and chest to be good and stay good, to show what you can do in the court and in a classroom. There are days you will feel accomplished and proud, as well as days were you feel like quitting. But stay strong student athlete, because there is nothing like the feeling of hard work paying off, the swell of your chest and heart as you and your team win your sport’s finals, as you ace that final test. It is awfully sacrificing, but the results are wholly compensating. 

Stephanie is a junior in the UPR-Río Piedras Campus, majoring in English Literature. She is currently a part of the university's tennis team, as well as the co-captain of her 4.0 tennis team in Parque Central. She works as a children tennis instructor for The Little Tennis Kids Academy in Guaynabo, PR. Stephanie enjoys reading, writing and eating ice cream immensely, but struggles to efficiently juggle all three at the same time. She hopes to conquer this one day soon. She has a writing tumblr blog: The Living Burn & an Instagram dedicated to her ice cream adventures. Go check it out!
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