From the outside looking in, the life of a college athlete may seem relatively simple. However, I deem their reality to be far from it. I plan to delve into not only the experience but the wisdom of young college athletes, and hopefully uncover some lessons that go beyond the scoreboard.
It is a primary belief of mine that seeking others’ perspectives is a fundamental aspect of not only personal growth but growth as a society. Understanding the perspective of our peers strengthens our understanding of the world, challenges assumptions we may have for others, and promotes a more inclusive and interconnected society. Aiding me in research are Evan and Jaylen, two roommates whom I share a dorm with. They are both young college athletes so I decided they would be some of the best candidates to conduct interviews with.
Throughout the interview, I observed one constant pattern in their answers: adaption. Being a student myself, I know personally that college and high school are two different ball games entirely, and although it may be a struggle to get acclimated to college, being able to adapt to the lifestyle will make it much easier. Both argued that adaptation is crucial for young college athletes because it allows them to navigate the diverse challenges of collegiate sports, both on and off the field, and sets the stage for personal growth and success in their athletic and academic goals.
I decided to go a bit off script with my interview and make the focus more on acclimation and adaptation. I asked both to give a challenge of acclimation that they had or are currently facing outside of their sport. Evan’s response was, “meeting physical demands.” He claims that college sports are more “…physically demanding, whether it be practices, weight lifting, training regiments, and even the longer season takes more of a toll on the body. It’s something you just gotta get used to.” I then asked him to explain how he overcame this and to advise other student-athletes. He answered, “Find a recovery routine that works for you and stay consistent with it. The benefit of these harder exercises is you learn a bit more about your body.”
Jaylen shared a similar sentiment saying, “To me, academic demands are more challenging than the demands in sports. Not only managing time but learning to manage it effectively isn’t that easy.” I urged him to explain further if possible. He replied, “In high school, I didn’t really have to focus on time management and organizational skills. College is different; it demands more effort from you.” I also asked him to explain how he overcame it and to give advice. He remarks, “Put in more effort. You can’t just go through the motions and think you can get by. What works for me is getting a planner on my phone and putting due dates and deadlines down and routinely looking over it.”
The advice and experiences shared by these two athletes emphasize the importance of adaptation, not only to the upgraded physical demands of sports but also to the academic aspects of college life. By embracing these challenges with resilience, time management, and commitment, I believe young athletes can lay the foundation for a well-rounded and fulfilling college experience.
Photo by Ron Lane/Cal Sport Media