Finally—finally the long day has come to an end. At least, that is what you have decided. Time to lay in the bed, check social media, but most importantly think of the days earlier events and then get some shut eye. Although, it seems like two short hours, between four to six hours go past. And then the dreaded sound of the alarm clock pierces your ears no later than 7:30am, on most days. Naturally, you choose to stay in the bed resting your eyes, thinking of the day ahead, contemplating if you really have to get up or not. Then you remember, you don’t really have a choice. You better get up and get to practice, because this is the life you chose—it’s the life of a student athlete.
If you are lucky, the practice location is a quick car or bus ride away. If not, you pray that you left early enough that you can walk at a mildly regular pace and still get to practice on time. Either way, you get there. The key is to be on time. Although “academics come first…no question about it” the funny thing about being a “student-athlete” is that it’s scarier to be late to practice than it is to class (George Mason University SAAC A10 Competition).
Now, it’s right before practice. You get to mingle with your teammates, whether it’s in the training room, or locker room or on the practice field. There might be talk about what happened that day, or even just time to yourself to blast music and zone out. But the overarching atmosphere always stems from the curiosity of the intensity of the upcoming work out and following quickly, your plan to dominate practice so that you leave better than you came in.
On hard days, the middle of practice is bitter sweet. Racing in your mind are a mix of thoughts—the joyous thought of being almost done and knowing a temporary freedom awaits intertwines with the drained thought that you feel like you can’t take the workout pain anymore. Soon rushing in though, comes the motivating thought. It’s what defines you. Are you willing to do what it takes to win the next game—to work to have greater stamina than your opponent— to continuously, exhaustedly fix your technique until the end of practice? Those are the thoughts that trump everything and forces you to give what feels like your entire soul to this one practice until, finally, it is over.
You have a good practice or you don’t. Hopefully, it is a good one, because the outcome normally sets your mood for at least part of the day. But there is not much time to dwell on this if the answer is cloudy, because on most days, the next minutes are crucial because now you have to rush to make it to class on time. Once at class, you feel relieved because you can finally take a break. Sit down, listen to the lesson and take a deep breath. When class is over, either there is another class to walk to or you have another practice to run too. It seems never ending. Luckily, at some point, you get to go to your dorm and that is when you think you can relax.
That is, until you remember you have homework and you have to treat whatever injury you have that day and you have to eat and you have to check your calendar to make sure that there is no mandatory event that night that the professor or athletics wants you to attend. When you realize you are in the clear, you start your assignments for the night. All of this takes time, but doing work late into the night or early morning is the norm. Once you begin to finish your assignments, you’re beyond exhausted but a lot of times this short free time gives you the opportunity to rerun today’s practice in your head. You think about what you could have done better and what you are going to improve on tomorrow. A student Athlete, Taylor Brown said it best, “Student athletes have practices, games, long nights and days injuries and pains, travel days and have to get good grades. There is no such thing as a four year scholarship. There’s no guarantee that you have a free scholarship” (George Mason University SAAC A10 Competition).
That’s why you are anxious to prove that today’s dedications made you better for tomorrow’s practice or game. And that is what makes it all worth it. And as your eyes get heavier, you feel blessed to be able to show off your talents and live this life because it is the only thing you want to know. After all, this is what has shaped you into the dedicated, committed and motivated individual that you are. And now finally, before you know it, you are sound asleep, so that you can wake up and do it all over again.