The life of a college athlete means much more than just practicing, lifting, and competing. It means being a part of a group of people with the similar goals of winning through playing as hard as possible. Good teams, whose players are made up of mentally tough and selfless people, achieve greatness through individuals playing their hardest to create a competitive environment in which collective growth is made possible. However, developing perfection in a sport is not the only thing in an athlete’s mind. To be able to play, each player needs to maintain a specific GPA. Athletes aren’t just motivated by this minimum, however. Because of the risk of injury and the loss of scholarship, athletes at lower division schools tend to also focus on academics as a way of life after college.
As a division II basketball player at a top notch academic college, I have learned that success can only be achieved both in the classroom and on the court if I focus on the task at hand. In high school, my basketball team had a motto which has been extremely applicable in my life now; W.I.N. This acronym stands for What’s Important Now. This motto encouraged me and my teammates to focus on both school and basketball at the appropriate times. When I am in the classroom or working on homework, the most important thing at that moment is to do my best in school. When I am on the court in a game or at practice, the most important thing at that moment is to play as hard as I can. Blurring these two different priorities would only limit my ability to give full effort in each area.
My daily routine consists of lifting in the morning, showering and eating a breakfast bar, going to class, eating lunch, and doing some homework before afternoon practice. After practice, which can be anywhere from two to three hours, my teammates and I go to dinner at the cafeteria. After dinner, I have to focus again on the task at hand and finish my homework so that I let my body have an adequate amount of sleep to be able to perform at my best for practice the next day.
If I think about everything I have to do each week all at once, I can easily become too stressed out to accomplish anything and end up not being able to give anything its well needed attention. One of the strategies I use for managing my time is keeping a well-organized planner and setting aside enough time for doing the homework for each class. I try to stay true to this planner. Then, when it is time for practice, I have already planned out the rest of my day so that I have enough time to do homework. Sometimes I become so busy that I hardly do anything but practice and study. This can make life seem a little lonely sometimes. One of the ways I stay social through even my busiest times is eating meals with friends. I try to get a group together for lunch everyday, and I always eat dinner with my team. This helps me balance my friend groups as well.
Even through all the stress and hardship, playing a college sport is definitely worth it. I have created amazing friendships with some of the nicest, most selfless people I have ever met. I feel like I can be goofy around my teammates. Whenever I’m having a bad day, my team mates pick my spirits up and help mentor me to having a better attitude.
Jessica De Gree
Jessica teaches English as a second language in Spain and plays basketball professionally there. She recently received her Bachelor's degree from Hillsdale College, one of the nation's top Liberal Arts schools in MI. At Hillsdale, she played basketball and studied English and Spanish. Some of her hobbies include reading, writing, painting, surfing, and playing the piano.