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Dos and don'ts for incoming freshman athletes

by Alyssa Daley-Executive Editor
Thu, May 4th 2017 01:00 pm
Photo taken from Pixabay
Photo taken from Pixabay

Being a freshman coming into college means starting a whole new chapter of your life. It's exhilarating, nerve-wracking and a little overwhelming all at the same time. You have big expectations for yourself, you know your parents are holding you to a high standard even though they may not voice it aloud and, if you were granted a scholarship, the college expects you to perform at a high level as well. All of this can make it feel as though you have to be the best and always do your best but no matter how hard high schools try to prepare us for college the real deal is always very different. 

For student-athletes all of these feelings seem to be doubled as they enter their first year. Not only do they have their academics to worry about but they also want to prove to their coaches that even though they are freshmen they still deserve playing time. 

For senior attackman and captain of the men's lacrosse team Jake Giudice this was one of the largest obstacles he faced during his freshman year.

  "I had to prioritize my academics before athletics in order to maintain a respectable GPA, Giudice wrote in an email. "Finding time to study and go to the library while also practicing a sport proved to be challenging but it is doable."

According to The College of St. Scholastica there are seven study tips for student-athletes that have proven to be the most time efficient and effective. Many of them may seem like common sense but if you are an incoming student athlete without these helpful tips you may feel more of a strain both mentally and, in turn, physically.

The first tip is to start with your goals. Coming into your first semester knowing what you want to accomplish will help you to match those high expectations. It will also help you keep everything in perspective and stay on track even when you seem to be suppressed by a massive to-do list and a game the next day.

The second is to establish your priorities. Just as you have a set schedule as to how to achieve your athletic goals by going to the gym and working out in the off-season, it is important to do a little bit of your academic workload before it is due.  

If you don't you'll find that everything is due when you have one of the biggest matchups of the season and you'll end up being stressed and unable to perform at your best.

Tying into this is the third piece of advice which is to schedule your homework. All college freshmen are told to do this but for you student-athletes it is pivotal. Once you get your schedule for the season make a master calendar/planner with all your games and practices as well as the bigger assignments for your classes.

Another leg up is to get to know your professors. If you explain to them that you are a student athlete right from the beginning and even print them a copy of your schedule and hand it to them with the notice up front that you may be absent some classes due to games, they'll not only know your face but they'll be more understanding than if you never speak to them about it. They might ask you to remind them as the time gets closer but they'll take note of your initiative and organization if you let them know well ahead of time.

Amongst everything this next tip might be at the back-most of your mind; however, taking care of yourself should really be your number one priority. If you're not eating or sleeping well both your academics and your team will suffer the consequences. No matter how busy you may get remember that if you're not feeling well you truly won't be able to get any of the things on your to-do list done.

The final piece of advice is to remember why you chose to go to The College at Brockport in the first place and compete at the collegiate level in your sport. If you want to write this on a post-it note and stick it on your bedpost or your desk and again in your gym bag, this will help you when you begin to question everything and feel as though you're being stretched too thin. Motivation is key to succeeding with your busy schedule and one way to do this is by keeping the essence of why you do what you do and are who you are close by.

Besides the balancing act between academics and your athletics, the next hardest thing is being away from home for the first time. If you were able to impress the coaches at Brockport that means you were probably on travel teams throughout grade school. It also means that your family was and still will be your number one group of supporters. 

Giudice experienced this and so have many other current student athletes. You're required to live on or near campus for a longer amount of time than most students and rarely have the chance to go home once you get here. The light in all of this, according to Giudice, is that "it gets easier with time." Your team and the people you meet in your classes will help you make new friends and find the support you need away from home. 

No matter how overwhelmed you may think yourself to be, college will be a fantastic time and choosing to be a student athlete may be hard but it's definitely not impossible. There are just as many benefits as there are sacrifices. 

"Freshman year for me was one of the best years I have had at Brockport," Giudice said. "That was the year I met all of my closest friends and really discovered more about myself. What made it easy for me was the seniors we had on our team. They were very open and accepting to everyone and they made the transition from high school athletics to college athletics much easier."

If you won't believe me take it from someone who knows. You will make it through your first year and you'll find these next four years to be filled with some of the best memories you will ever have.

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