I moved across the country to pursue softball and a college degree. There have been some tough times, but I have also made some lifelong memories. From student to student, athlete to athlete, here are 10 tips for first semester as a college student-athlete!
As a freshman student-athlete, you are required to do supervised study hall hours. Yes, you sit in a room with a bunch of other kids and get your work done (ugh!). For some people, this is a great opportunity to study or do assignments. For others, there are too many distractions to be productive. Study hall isn't meant to be an extra thing on the long list, but may seem like that sometimes. Use the time to catch up on class readings or online quizzes. If you struggle with a noisy environment, make sure to bring some earbuds and put on your favorite study playlist.
What do you get when you start lifting and conditioning for the first time and you aren't getting enough sleep? Tired muscles. Some athletes come in with extensive weight lifting experience. Others, not so much. And that's OK! A misconception about becoming a college athlete is that you have to have really big muscles and squat 300 lbs. I promise you, we work on that here. It is a part of your off-season and your regular season. But be prepared to be sore at the beginning.
College, without extracurricular activities, is hard. Classes are long, assignments are plentiful, and sleep is sparse. This is not to say you will not sleep the next four years. But until you find your routine, there may be nights where you don't get more than 4 hours of quality sleep. NAPS ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND (when you can).
Joining a sports team in college means that you have 20+ new best friends who you will see every day, at least twice a day (you may even live with them). Enjoy the time you have with them, because college doesn't last forever. At a small school like Wagner, the whole athletics department is one big family!
“Don't be afraid to get to know people on other teams." — Melanie Post '20, Women’s Tennis
Don't be afraid to ask for help. Your professors are there to guide you through the course, so ask questions. The athletic department is there to help coordinate between crazy sports schedules and professors; send them an email. Someone on your team has been there and done that; ask for advice and don't be afraid to ask for help scheduling classes. There are endless resources on campus (such as the Writing Center and your academic advisor), so get the most out of them.
Many of us athletes are die-hard. All we want to do is be out on the field or court. This is great, but remember to have that same “get after it” mentality in the classroom, too. Your grades count not only for your degree, but having a good team GPA reflects well on the program as a whole. Do your best to be a part of that achievement!
“Stay ahead of your work, it will pay off so that you aren’t pulling all nighters… all the time." — Amelia Van Orman 20’, Softball
Write down a time in the day when you can get lunch and dinner. Fueling your body is SO important! Don’t forget to reward yourself every once in a while with some ice cream from the dining hall.
Oftentimes, changing before class is not in the cards. So just roll with it. In college, nobody cares what you look like in class. Make some time every once in a while to get out of your practice clothes, but don't be late to class!
Don’t be surprised if you have multiple workouts in one day your first semester. Your off-season is the time to work harder and get better. Coming to practices and weight room sessions with a good attitude will help the team atmosphere and will benefit you in the long run. Try not to focus on the negative.
“Always hustle and give 100%, you never know when your last rep will be.” — Haley Peaslee '23, Softball
To put it in perspective, playing a sport will come to an end. You may go on to play professionally, you may stop after four years, or, like myself, you may suffer from a career-ending injury. Either way, you will want to say you gave your whole heart when that day does come.
Not only do you get to play a sport, but you are getting an education alongside it. Don’t waste the next four years. Enjoy your sport, enjoy school, and find a passion in both of them.
There are so many life lessons embedded within being a student-athlete. Enjoy the time with your team, learn from your mistakes, and most importantly, HAVE FUN!