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Life of a College Athlete - October 7th 2021

It’s the night before you leave for college, you are a freshman soccer player and you have lived in the same house, attended the same school, have had the same friends, teachers, coaches and trainers for years. How are you feeling as you lay in bed for your last sleep at home?

You arrive on campus and proceed to move in to your new “home” with a stranger sharing a space roughly 2 feet away from you. You say your good byes to your parents and you battle with the anxiety and excitement of being truly on your own for the first time in your life. You look over your class schedule and compare it to your practice/game schedule for the semester, where is building B and how close is it to the practice field? class ends at 2:50 and I need to be changed and on the field by 3:15, will I be able to make it. Between practices, lifts, class and studying, you certainly do not have much free time.

Your first practice is going well, you think so anyway. Your coach isn’t like the coaches you have had at home for the past 4 years; it isn’t that he is worse or better, he is just different, a stranger, and you aren’t sure just yet what he wants from you. Your new teammates seem cool and welcoming, but it is a little bit tough because they all know each other very well and you don’t yet. Between the new coaches and teammates, it feels like you are on the field with a bunch of strangers. Your team plays a system that requires you to change the way your game a little bit, which isn’t that big of a deal; you are an athlete, you are adaptable and you know that you can make the adjustments but, right now, you are a little overwhelmed with how new everything in your life is and it would have helped if you could have kept your playing style. Practice ends without too many mistakes on your part, you feel confident that as you get to know your surroundings a bit you will be able to do your job. You talk a little more with your teammates after practice and they all seem accepting and welcoming, not a bad first day!

School has started and the stress of balancing student life and athlete life is crushing. Your classes are tough and your professors are demanding. You need to spend more time studying and preparing than at any time in your high school career. Between classes and athletic life, you don’t have much time for anything but school and soccer.

Your roommate is just freaking weird and messy and, well, they smell really bad. You are always cleaning up after them and their strange behavior and lack of hygiene makes you want to avoid your room, your home, when they are around. You aren’t really making any friends due to a lack of time to communicate with anyone outside of class or soccer and that probably isn’t going to change until after the season. You have made friends on the team but it would be nice to spend some time with people you don’t see 3-4 hours per day everyday.

It can be stressful, tiresome and lonely to be a student athlete but you will adapt. Balance is a myth; you will find a way to put a little bit more effort into your studies when finals roll around and you will find a way to put more time into your performance on the field. Figuring out how to excel, as a student and an athlete will help you later in life when you need to be more than just one thing. It’s all about adaptation in college and, you will learn this as you enter adulthood, in life.

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