While many people have ideas about the lives of collegiate scholar-athletes, I am here to tell you what the experience actually entails from my perspective as a women’s basketball player. Being a scholar- athlete is a privilege and something I have worked for my entire life, and it has granted me many opportunities to make my childhood dream come true – being a collegiate scholar-athlete.
At Kentucky Wesleyan College, we take the “scholar” in scholar-athlete very seriously. Athletes have a lot of pressure to perform well on the court or field in addition to the classroom. With GPA requirements for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), expectations from our coaches, and career and graduate school goals of our own, we have a lot motivating our academic performance. Balancing those pressures with the same demands in class and assignments as other students can be a lot to handle, but most of us do it very well. Thankfully, Kentucky Wesleyan is a place where coaches, professors, and staff support us and have things in place to help us do well in everything we pursue.
In order to stay in shape, we do not get to live what some might see as the stereotypical college life. Staying up until 2am every night, engaging in behavior involving alcohol, eating whatever we want, or hanging out with friends really late would be a major hindrance to our success. The majority of Kentucky Wesleyan College scholar-athletes have 6am workouts we need to attend 5 days out of the week – and that’s just pre-season!
It is important to know that there is no off season – training for your sport happens year round. For many sports, training for the following season begins as soon as one season ends. There are no breaks when it comes to my sport because the dedication, determination, and motivation override any urge to stop training for the sport I love. When we play our last game of the season in March or April, we start the next week training for the following season. The end of the school year and the summer are the most important parts for a basketball athlete because those are the months you have the most time to improve yourself and to work on your weaknesses. Once school starts, your time is limited. Your time is limited because many athletes are taking 18 credit hours per semester in order to graduate on time in four years.
Preseason starts the 4th day of the actual school year. For women’s basketball, we have physical testing on the first and second days of actual preseason. The testing is to show us where we as individuals are, but it is also shows the coaches and the team how hard we have worked over the summer to become better for the upcoming season. This can put a lot of stress on a player because in order to do well, you have to work out, and in order to prove to your team that you are accountable, you must do well on testing. Preseason conditioning includes 7 1/2 hours of conditioning for the week along with 2 ½ hours of basketball for the week, which equals to about 10 hours of workout time for the week.
When everyone is back on campus at the beginning of the year partying and hanging out with friends late at night, basketball players are in our beds sleeping because we are trying to prepare ourselves for our workouts and the next day of classes. For me, this semester involves 18 credit hours – the most hours a student can take without having to apply for an overload. Needless to say, I am very busy!
Nutrition plays a big part in the performance of scholar – athletes: both on the court or field and in the classroom. Personally, I do my best to eat as healthfully as I can. I avoid sugary drinks, alcohol, desserts, and greasy foods. I try to eat salads and chicken every day for lunch. While I would love to be able to eat whatever I wanted, I feel an obligation and duty to my teammates to keep myself in the best shape I can as we prepare for the season. I also feel that, as a senior and leader on my team, it is my job to set an example for my teammates. By eating the best we can and by getting the sleep we need, we are hopefully able to perform at the highest level possible on and off the court.
I can understand how students may have the perception that athletes get special treatment because there are so many of us on campus. However, I would hope that those people would take a minute to think about the additional responsibilities and pressures scholar-athletes have on them. Luckily, Kentucky Wesleyan College is a place where we are all family and are set up to be successful – whether we are a scholar-athlete or not. I hope you’ll come to watch the women’s basketball team play this year at the Sportscenter!