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Finding (Im)balance as a Collegiate Athlete?

My dream from the first time I clicked into a pair of skis was to ski race at the highest level possible. When I was younger this meant making the US Ski Team. As I grew up, my goals shifted into wanting more than a ski racing career- primarily an education. Once in college I decided I wanted to do more than just ski race, so I decided to also play soccer for my college. Balancing two sports and school is difficult but having the opportunity to do my two favorite things at such a high level is something I wouldn’t trade for all the extra free time in the world. Being a division one collegiate athlete requires a variety of different things, many of which are learned through trial and error, the most important thing my athletic career has taught me thus far is the importance of balance and in particular imbalance. Ultimately, being an athlete in college not only makes you better at your sport but also a well-rounded person.

The first and most important skill I have learned is time management. Time management is a key component to any college student’s success but even more important for collegiate athletes. Athletes must balance many things: workouts, school work, social life, classes and competition. Finding time for all these different things can be challenging. To succeed in both your sport and in school, time management is a critical skill to master.

The best thing I have done to manage my time is to plan, primarily concerning course load, for your in-season semester and out of season semester. The lighter load in season makes time management a bit easier. It is important to stay on top of your tasks and to manage your time effectively as an athlete. It is difficult as you won’t have as much free time as many of your peers who don’t play sports but if your sport is what you love finding the balance will be worth it for your chance to compete.

Because school and your sport are your main priorities, the majority of your time will go to these two. This is where the imbalance comes from, the bulk of time goes to what you choose to dedicate yourself to and the rest is dispersed among other responsibilities. In order to be great at what you do you have to dedicate most of your time to what you want to be great at and then balance the rest of your responsibilities accordingly- it takes time and hard work to be great, it doesn’t come easily.

Being a collegiate athlete is more than just competing in your sport and doing school work. It’s a chance to be a part of the team and be involved with the school community. You share your high level of dedication and love for the sport with your teammates and make lifelong friends in the process. This initial connection between teammates leads you to a strong bond that not only is helpful during competitions but with school as well. Having the team as a support system when transitioning into college is one of the best things about being a collegiate athlete. My teammates have become some of my best friends and people I know who are working through the same challenges as me.

The most important thing I have learned as a collegiate athlete is that it is you who controls what happens in your life, you have to take charge of both your academics and your athletics in order to succeed at this high level. The expectations from high school to college are much different and it is a difficult change initially. However, if you are willing to put the work in, I promise you, it is worth every late-night studying, early morning lift, and long calls home, because at the end of the day, you’re doing what you love.

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