Have you ever wondered how a college athlete does it? How do they possibly balance a sport with challenging academics, and try to squeeze in somewhat of a social life? Being a college athlete takes a special person with a determination like no other.
If you asked me 10 years ago whether or not I could play a sport in college, I never would have fathomed the thought. Everyday actions determine how one is going to perform on the court, field, pool, track, etc. I constantly have to think which workouts will benefit me the most to attain my ultimate goals; and what mindset will get me ready for game day. And most importantly, what kind of diet will nourish my body to help maintain endurance and muscular strength. This is a constant struggle, but with patience and effort, it has helped me to increase my potential.
Let me give you a little background about my college athletic life and what has fueled my body over the course of my two years so far. My freshman year I came into college with no expectations, just wanting to play the sport I loved and felt honored to be given the opportunity to play at the college level. I finished the season with only two losses and became the conference Freshman of the Year. I was working with my coaches outside of scheduled practices, and I extremely motivated and determined to achieve my goals. Unfortunately, it was all too good to be true.
I knew this couldn’t last. At the conference tournament I fell and strained my calf and hamstring and suffered from an injured wrist, but I ended the season strong aside from these two injuries. Then summer hit and I got a severe case of mono for three month. My body and immune system was completely compromised – getting dressed in the morning was a workout in itself. I was losing weight and muscle, and I just wasn’t looking or feeling like myself. Just as I began feeling better, I had to go back to the rigorous schedule of a student-athlete. However, my body was not up to the caliber to meet the demands.
Coupled with significant, new food allergies triggered by the mono, I couldn’t even figure out what to eat to fuel my body. In addition, with a torn wrist, I thought my career was coming to an end. I should not have been playing. I was so weak and wanted to quit.
But this was not me. I was never a person who gave up on anything, except when I got pushed to the ground in soccer and got dirt in my mouth. That was it for my soccer career! Otherwise, I have always finished what I’ve begun, so I decided that my mindset had to change. I went to a nutritionist to avoid my food allergies, did physical therapy for my wrist, and boosted my protein intake. I needed to take control of my life because If didn’t, how would get healthy again? I was letting my team, friends, family, and most importantly, myself down. I knew this process wasn’t going to be easy, but I was not going to back down.
At the conclusion of the year, I was selected All Conference in the Big East. I had my struggles no doubt, as it seemed like I had an injury every week along with my torn wrist, but I never gave up and battled until the end. I had become much stronger and directly faced adversity. I am stronger for it, and at this point in my life, nothing can bring me down. A strong belief in yourself is what everyone needs – athlete or not. My struggles had a happy ending because I never said enough was enough.