Being a student athlete seems like such a big commitment, and everyone always hears the athletes complaining about their tough practices. So why do people end up staying on the team all four years? Well, coming from someone who’s been a student athlete her whole life, there are actually a lot of great reasons to be a part of a team in college.
The most stressful thing about college is probably the fear of not being able to find any friends, and not knowing the social norms or what you should be doing. Being part of a team right when you come onto campus takes away this fear almost immediately. When you’re on a team in college it gives you a group of people right away that you can bond with. They can introduce you to new people and help you start to build your new college friend group. I came for an overnight recruiting trip, which means I got to meet the whole team before I even got to campus, and it felt like I already had a family at the Mount. They made me feel at home when I needed it most.
My team has also been an amazing source of peer mentors. Having friends who have already gone through what you’re about to go through is so important for college. Being a student athlete is a difficult task, especially if you’re a nursing major like most people on this campus. I’ve seen so many of the seniors on my team helping the new freshman nursing majors. Not just by helping them study and giving them their notes, but also by helping them understand that it is going to be hard, but that they can make it. Having seniors or juniors on the team that have made it through that tough situation that scares you is incredibly inspiring, and I honestly feel like it helps people stay in their program, even if it seems like they won’t make it. Having older teammates also helps because they can tell you what classes you should (or definitely should not) take.
One of the downfalls of being a student athlete is that it takes away precious time that most people feel like they don’t have in college. Well, personally, this is actually a gift. I know that for me, and a lot of other student athletes out there, if they weren’t forced to share some of their study time with their sport they would not be as motivated to do their work. Because athletes don’t have as much free time, we have to not only learn to manage our time better, but a lot of student athletes also say that they actually do more work and are more focused on it when they’re in season. This is absolutely true for me. When I’m not swimming every day I find that I lose all motivation to do anything except watch TV and hang around, and just completely avoid all work.
On top of all of this great stuff, being forced to exercise is amazing stress relief. I don’t think there’s a single day in college where students aren’t stressed about something. Being on a team and not only exercising, but doing it with your friends, provides a break and a way to let out your stress (and sometimes anger) in a really healthy way.