Life of a college athlete

Holly Houser was born and raised in Key Largo, Fla. She is a senior at the University of Miami and is on track to graduate in spring of 2015. Holly is a public relations and psychology double-major and a broadcast journalism minor.

She is a fourth-year member and captain of the University of Miami’s official all-girl cheerleading team. Holly is also involved in other organizations on campus, including her sorority, Delta Gamma, and UM’s chapter of PRSSA.

Upon graduation, Holly plans to pursue a career in public relations.

Most of us can agree that keeping up with all of our responsibilities in college is difficult. When faced with piles of work for classes, clubs and internships, athletics is usually the first thing that is sacrificed. But being a college athlete is far from impossible.

I admit that my sleep schedule is anything but normal and there are many days when I get to practice and all I can think about is the work I have to do when it’s over. While this may seem discouraging, there are many more positive aspects to being part of a sports team than negative. Aside from keeping you in shape, it bonds you with a group of people who understand your struggles, gives you a temporary escape from the demands of your work and life, and teaches you qualities that are beneficial for success in your future.

Time management is the key to balancing academics and athletics. At times when a NARP (non-athletic regular person) might decide to spend their free hour before class watching TV, you have to make the decision to spend it doing homework. The breaks you have between class and practice are essential times to get your work done. This may not sound like fun, but it’s part of the job. Every minute counts when you’re a college athlete. Effective time management helps to reduce the number of late nights and early mornings that athletes nonetheless have to face.

Athletes also have to learn to do their studying on the road. If you are traveling to a game and sitting on a plane or bus for an hour, this is the perfect time to get your work done. In reality, you wouldn’t be doing anything besides listening to music or watching a movie anyway. Thankfully, professors are required to allow you to make up work if you’re at an away game so you’re not penalized for missing something important.

Official university athletes need to also take advantage of the resources they are offered. Most universities have tutors specifically for their sports teams, some of whom even travel with them to away games. It is also encouraging to be surrounded by a community of student athletes who are committing just as much time as you and trying to manage their schoolwork.

If you still don’t think you’re capable of juggling academics and an official sports team, students always have the opportunity of club or intramurals. These teams are less demanding but still as rewarding. Intramurals especially give you a greater sense of freedom because they allow you to choose when you want to play. If you have a really stressful week, you’re not required to go to any practices or games.

Clearly athletics in college is not easy and there’s no trick on how to handle it. Ultimately there are still people who are unable or unwilling to take on the challenge, but if you do just remember that the formula for success is time management, and most importantly a passion for your sport.

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