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Juggling Everyday Life As a College Athlete

It’s 7 a.m., your body aches and you wish you could stay in bed a little longer. You force yourself up, go about your morning routine, and get yourself mentally prepared for the big day. 

After indulging in a big breakfast, you make sure both your school and soccer bag are packed with everything you need for the day. You head out for your 9:30 a.m. class an hour early, accounting for the commute traffic.

After getting to campus and hunting down an open parking space, you speed-walk to class, arriving 5 minutes early. Taking a seat in the second row (coaches rules), you take out your notebook and get ready for the lecture. After class, you have a club meeting. After the meeting, you have to eat a big lunch– it’s game day! 

You get to the locker room 4 hours before the game. You need an hour to get taped in the athletic training room, get your travel gear on, and triple-check to make sure you have your warm-up, uniform, cleats, shin guards, and all other game day necessities. 

You get on the bus, heading out 3 hours before kickoff. The ride to the opponent’s school is about an hour and a half. You got your game day playlist playing in your headphones as you try to zone in. Upon arrival, the team heads to the locker room, blasting the pregame playlist. As you all change into your warm-up gear, the butterflies start to kick in. You’re ready to go. 

Finally, you step onto the field, lit up partially by the bright lights overhead, and partially by the high energy exuding out of every player on the pitch. You get yourself loose in warmups, making sure to stretch, and get your touch ready. Seven minutes until kickoff. 

Your coaches huddle the team up and explains what they’re expecting from today’s match: high energy, high intensity, let’s get at it! Both line-ups are introduced and quickly huddle back in with their team. Your coaches scream: “Together on three, one… two… three…,” you all scream “TOGETHER!”

90 minutes of hard work. 90 minutes of communication. 90 minutes of teamwork– from both teams. The game draws 1-1 at the end of regulation time. In overtime the first team to score instantly wins, golden goal. Your team comes out hard and determined, but the score remains at a draw. Five minutes into double-overtime, your team gets a break away and sinks it in the back of the net. The whole team storms the field, screaming, jumping, and laughing. You rejoice in the moment– hat cloud-9 feeling– and think to yourself, this is why we do it. 

The team cools down and huddles up one last time before heading back to the bus. You arrive back at campus at 11:30 p.m., change in the locker room, and drive home. After getting home, eating a midnight dinner, and taking a nice hot shower, you crawl into bed. You fall asleep, ready to do it all again tomorrow. 

This is the life of a college athlete, and it’s a tough one. It takes a lot of time management, dedication, and self-care to be able to balance the many trials that come with the decision. It seems almost impossible to manage, but it’s not. With a lot of patience, determination, and will power, college athletes can be very successful in a university and beyond. 

I’ll be sharing how I manage my everyday responsibilities as a student, athlete, club member, employee, sister, friend and so many other things. Of course, everyone is different– not everything I say is applicable to everyone– but take what you need and see what works best for you!

  1. Manage your time. Time management is the single most important skill you can have as a student-athlete. You’re juggling a million and one things at a time: make sure you set aside enough time to do it all. It’s always better to set aside more time than you need for an assignment, a practice, an errand and be left with some free time, than to not set aside enough time for everything and be left scrambling. 
  2. Plan EVERYTHING. This is a big part of time management. Call me crazy, but I have an agenda, a calendar, and a calendar app that I use every day (yes, I write the same task three times in three separate places.) Writing everything down and having it on my phone really helps me remember to do things. Planning your busy schedule out (classes, assignments, exams, practices, games, meetings, extracurriculars, work, social/personal time) is pertinent to being successful in all aspects of life. 
  3. Only take on what you can handle. Often, athletes tend to increasingly take on more responsibilities because they’ve been doing it their entire life. They think they can handle ‘just one more thing’. Newsflash, sometimes it can be too much. Sometimes you have to drop an extracurricular, or not go hangout with your friends. Sometimes you need to take a step back and realize you are only human. 
  4. Make time for family and friends. When athletes are in season, their life mostly consists of school, their sport, sleeping, and eating (and sometimes not enough of the last two). That’s why it’s important to (when you have the time) spend some time with those you love, and get away from the hustle and bustle of your busy life for a while. Trust me, laughter and quality time with your loved ones does wonders for your well-being.
  5. Take care of your body, mind, and soul. Last but certainly not least, please take care of yourself. As a student-athlete, you often hear everyone reminding you to take care of injuries, drink enough water, get enough food and sleep. Taking care of your body is important. However, it’s not often enough that we’re told to take care of our minds. If you are too stressed, feeling depressed, filled with anxiety, or feeling anything else off with your mental health, seek help. There are plenty of resources open to everyone on college campuses, so do yourself the favor and find solace with those resources. You will thank yourself for it. 

As a college-athlete, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed and unsure, but if you take the time to take care of yourself and acknowledge your responsibilities– and your capacity to fulfill them– you’re on the right track!

Isabel Medina
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