Balancing Life as a Student Athlete
Written by Cherie S. White, Blackamericaweb.com
The college years can be challenging. Juggling classes, tests, labs and late-night studying can be a lesson in prioritizing for some. Toss in a sport and it takes the college experience to a new level.
Life as a student athlete can be a fun and rewarding experience. It can also prove to be overwhelming. Darius Taylor, women’s basketball assistant coach at the University of South Carolina works with student athletes every day. As a coach, he also acts as a role model, teacher, mentor, disciplinarian, sounding board, counselor, and parent away from home.
But of all the duties Taylor takes on, there is a more important goal he strives to achieve.
“Although we as coaches want to win, helping student athletes grow from teenagers into responsible young adults is the ultimate goal,” says Taylor.
In his many roles, Taylor has seen it all – the good and the bad. Unfortunately, Taylor has seen many students make the wrong decisions. He says that some students make the mistake of taking opportunities for granted.
“The light bulb does not come on for some of them until it’s too late. Most of the time in athletics and in life, you only get one chance to get it right. Student athletes need to make the most of their opportunities because there are plenty of others that would love to be in their shoes,” Taylor says.
He adds that quite a few student athletes also make the mistake of not accepting their roles.
“They can get caught up in trying to prove a coach wrong or listening to “yes men/women” in the background telling them how good they are. Buying into the team concept and accepting your role is important, not only in sports but in life. It's a great hiring quality to have. In many employment opportunities, they will find themselves as part of some team, unit or company, and being able to accept one role until you get the bigger one you really want can be the difference in winning or losing in life.”
Here are a few more tips on how to perform at the top of your game in the classroom and on the field.
Keep Professors in the Loop
Keep your professors in the know by giving them your athletic schedule and the days you may miss at the beginning of the semester. Many professors are flexible and understanding; as long as you take care not to take advantage of their kindness. Don’t be late in turning in assignments. If you will miss a class or two, find a classmate to copy notes.
Schedule Down Time
One of the most important things to do as a student athlete is rest. Although it may be scarce, setting aside time to refuel can have an enormous affect on school work and physical performance.
Keep a Schedule
Invest in a daily planner with time slots. Write down your complete schedule for the day to ensure that you are getting things done. An example of a schedule will look something like this:
• 5:15-6:30- Eat, take bath, chores if you have any and relax
• 6:30-7:30- study for class #1 and any homework from that class.
• 7:30-8:30-class #2 homework and study
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.
If you have a major project due in a few weeks, schedule your tasks and studying out over time to avoid cramming and getting less-than-stellar results.
Learn how to avoid distractions and say no.
This may be the toughest part of becoming a successful student athlete. When studying, remove yourself from the possibility of distractions. Go to a library off campus, turn off your cell phone and, most above all, commit to your goals. Keep your focus.
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