By: Meghan Lupo, student author
Living the dream
Being a college athlete means you have the perfect life, right? You get to play the sport you love, wear new gear, meet new friends and get unique privileges that none of the other students have. It seems like a dream and it’s something that many of us athletes aspire to accomplish but once it really happens we are faced with reality. One that no one truly understands until they get the first-hand experience of being a college athlete.
You see being a college athlete is much more than winning championships, getting free stuff, and recognition. Many people have this idea that it’s effortless and someone will be there to hold your hand throughout the process. When in reality, becoming a college athlete is a full-time job that requires complete dedication and perseverance. It’s not something that you can commit to half-heartedly, and if you do you’ll soon realize that it’s not for you. Throughout my experience I learned a lot not only about myself, but my team, coaches and the commitment I was making,
From the beginning
At eighteen years old, I don’t think any of us truly know what we’re getting into when we sign those papers and commit to a school. I think truthfully all we know is what we dreamt about when we were little. The glamour, being able to play the sport that defined us, and getting a scholarship in return. For me I was naïve about everything that being a college athlete entailed and quickly learned just how strenuous it can be. From the moment pre-season starts your whole life revolves around two-a-days, working out, watching film, and eating healthy. Even when school starts the training continues and it will become overwhelming at times but that’s what being a college athlete is all about. You’re always in season whether you are preparing for the season to start, in season, or doing volunteer work you don’t have an “off season.”
Between waking up at 5am for conditioning, class all day, studying, then 5pm practice you’ll feel both physically and mentally exhausted. You’ll have to do this multiple days in a row, and although it will seem like the end of the world I promise you, you’ll get through it. You’ll be able to take naps on certain days, and you’ll become a pro at figuring out when you’ll have time to eat or study but initially it will be tough. The transition from high school to college is challenging in itself, but adding collegiate sports to the mix is a whole different ball game. It will force you to overcome obstacles that are completely new to you, but it will also help you grow and excel more than you could have ever imagined.
One of the most important lessons I learned when becoming a college athlete was that you are no longer representing yourself, you are representing your school. So, in other words, your every move is being watched. From showing up to class, to social media athletic directors and coaches will keep tabs on you and make sure that your commitment is being upheld in every aspect of your life. Skipping class isn’t an option like it is for many other students and try as you might I guarantee you’ll either get benched or your whole team will face the consequences at conditioning practice. Also known as running until you puke. Not only that, your social media accounts will be heavily monitored. So, posting pictures at parties, engaging in inappropriate behavior, or being irresponsible will result in consequences. I know this sounds pretty harsh but understand that when you commit to a college and receive a scholarship you have to set an example and abide by their rules. Being a good athlete is one thing, but representing your school is another.
Experiencing all that college has to offer
Another thing to emphasize for those of you who are being recruited is that being a college athlete is completely different from being a traditional student. You really don’t have the privileges that you may have once thought were a part of this commitment. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. You will have to attend every class, practice, study hall-session, and volunteer for the school. With that being said, you will miss out on social events and it will be hard but you’ll get to experience things other students wont.
Although it may seem like being a college athlete is overwhelming, it’s one of the best experiences you’ll ever have. Being a college athlete means making new friends, long bus rides, memories that will last a lifetime, and most importantly enjoying every step along the way. It is something that you’ll be able to look back on and be proud of. Because not only did your athletic ability give you this opportunity but your strength and dedication to rise above for the challenges that accompanied it.
Schedule a free consultation to speak with Sandra Gardella-Cherry, College Navigator and Education Consultant specializing in NCAA requirements and student athletes
Meghan Lupo is a senior currently enrolled at Northwood University where she is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Business administration with a major in Marketing. Throughout her college career she was hesitant about solidifying her decision to pursue business, but the decision became very easy after a few business classes that left a lasting impression on her. As a student-athlete, mentor, and someone who has experienced the trials and tribulations college entails she is ecstatic to be a part of our team and share her journey with others in order to help them grow, excel, and enjoy all that college has to offer.