I never thought I was good enough to play a sport at the collegiate level, even D3. I thought I would have to join club sports. So I was incredibly surprised when the university tennis coach asked me to check out the team. There were many factors I considered before joining. I was unsure if I would be able to balance my academic and athletic responsibilities to truly be an asset to the team. Nevertheless, I joined the team and it became a rewarding experience, allowing me to grow and thrive during my first year of college. Throughout my time, I not only enjoyed myself but learned important lessons to carry me through the rest of my college experience.
Even on a D3 level, athletics are a serious commitment. Practices run seven days a week with occasional games. Depending on the team, there may be additional lifts, conditioning, or training. Unless there is a genuine excuse like sickness or family emergency, attendance is non-negotiable. Since this is the case, the first semester may become stressful. I had to get used to a full schedule of five classes, practice, and additional extracurriculars. It was hard to have a social life on top of all my commitments and there were times in which I questioned my decision to join sports. However, this led me to becoming a more organized individual. I took full advantage of planners and calendars, scheduling my activities and homework by the hour. Each week, I had a clear perspective of what I had to achieve. When it came to schoolwork, I enabled a “get it done now" mindset so I could take full advantage of free time.
Playing a collegiate sport has made me more health conscious both at school and at home. It isn’t enough to merely participate in the sport. In order to get better, one must practice healthy eating and continued exercise (even once the season has ended). My meals became more balanced as I had the resources to understand the best foods to eat before and after games. Many universities also have fitness classes for students to take advantage of as well as varsity weight rooms for athletes. I began making my own workouts to carry over into summer. The drive to continue the healthy lifestyle I had built during the season was strong. It paid off too. I avoided the stereotypical freshman fifteen and instead gained muscle mass.
Importance of Work Ethic
When playing a sport, you experience a constant uphill battle. For passionate athletes, the season never ends. No matter where you stand, you always give 100%. Even if you’re about to lose a match, there's always a possibility to turn the outcome around. Playing tennis for seven years has taught me the genuine importance of work ethic. Sometimes it is not the better player who wins but the one that works harder. That type of mindset is ingrained in athletes at the collegiate level and it extends to other areas of life. Maintaining a 3.0 GPA while going to practices and potentially working a job takes self-discipline. Putting the time and effort into your on-court performance yields rewards. That type of work ethic and tenacity will prepare you for the working world after graduation. Future employers look for those who are going the extra mile in leadership, time management, and teamwork abilities. Look no further than the college athlete.
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