Your average student moans about deadlines, having no money and getting up for 9am lectures… Imagine the struggle of multiple looming deadlines, trying to ensure your housemates don’t incinerate your house with their dirty washing up, having a bank balance that is growing deeper into your overfraft by the second and then representing your country as a professional athlete, with all the training and dedication competing expects of its athletes. We just don’t know how Harry does it!
GB Volleyball player and student Harry Jones tells Sundried what it takes to be a student athlete.
Student Athlete: The Definition
"A participant in an organised competitive sport sponsored by the educational institution in which he or she is enrolled…”
Type the words ‘student athlete’ into the Internet, and the above description is the first to appear. In basic terms, that’s correct. We play sport. We wear our colleges and universities across our backs. Job done. But any student athlete could tell you that it’s a lot more than that. After 2 years of college and 1 university semester, here’s a few thing that I’ve learnt…
Sport, Studies and Social Life are the three things that make up a student athlete’s life; some people believe that by having two, one will suffer. On the most part, it's true. They don’t fall off the face of the planet, but one will never be fully complete.
On average, you have lectures, classes, seminars, group work or studies to complete from first thing in the morning until late afternoon. Most days, you’ll have a training session or are in the gym, usually before morning classes, or late in the evening. Maybe you have a party or are meeting a group of friends or family 2-3 times a week. Imagine how tired you would be if you did this every week? You can’t, something always has to go, and usually it’s the social aspect. That’s the dedication you need to achieve your goals.
Simple facts: Some days you wake up and you want to be a really good student. Some days you wake up and want to be a really good athlete. Other days you just want to relax and have a good time. But performance isn’t about doing things when you feel like it, its about being to able to push yourself on both the good and the bad days to get to where you want to be. And a lot of the reward comes from this feeling, to know that you were able to overcome a challenge in order to reach your potential.
The amount of time I’ve spent rushing from one appointment to another is crazy; from lecture to practice, from gym to seminar, from physiotherapy to a group meeting. Having three separate life schedules is difficult to juggle because they don’t usually all sync together as one. The biggest impact is usually on the athletic side; sometimes you have to rush your session and leave early. You don’t have time to stretch or have a shower before practice, raising your chances of getting ill or injured. And then you rush into the lecture late; never a good start.
Whilst there may be some problems with my lifestyle, I’d be naive to say I don’t enjoy it. I love being able to get my degree whilst pushing myself as an athlete. The support I receive as a student athlete helps me to push myself everyday and to make improvements that would be possible elsewhere. I get to meet amazing people all the times and be part of a wide and expansive team who always have my back. If I were to give 3 tips as a student athlete, they would probably be:
1) Stay Focused: Know what you want to achieve and keep a hold of that. It makes the stressful days more bearable and gives you clarity in a hectic lifestyle.
2) See Sacrifices as Commitment: If you get too down about the stuff that you have to give up then you’ll never enjoy what you're doing. See everything you sacrifice as a way of getting better and a way of achieving your goals, not something you feel you have to do.
3) Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself; It’s a tough lifestyle. Cut yourself some slack. You won’t always be perfect. You will make mistakes. But it doesn’t matter, because they will make you better in the long run. The main thing is to take enjoyment from everything you do and always see the positive side of things!
To all my fellow student athletes, good luck in achieving those goals!
ENG Beach Volleyball
Find out more on Harry on our Sundried Ambassador page.