The life of an athlete Taylor
Sports, school and social life. Dealing with two of them is tough enough, but as Taylor’s student-athletes discovered, they are expected to juggle all three.
While some may view the scholarship money in their accounts and notoriety on campus and in the media as an advantage over that of the typical Taylor student, it also has its drawbacks.
Many student-athletes have training sessions in the morning, classes during the day, and train in the afternoon and evening.
Regardless of the individual schedule, all varsity athletes will be required to do strength and conditioning training in addition to team training.
Additionally, match days usually result in a lack of many lessons, with some athletes choosing to do their homework on the bus to ensure they stay on top of their schooling.
“Staying one step ahead of your academics really makes a lot of things easier,” said senior football player Owen Hardy. “Especially since it means that during sport you don’t have any outside thoughts in your head.”
His words were echoed by head golf coach Cam Andry.
Andry, who coaches both men’s and women’s teams, recognizes the challenges his athletes face and tries to be flexible by allowing them to deal with different aspects of student and golfer life.
“I’m trying to help them understand that learning to balance these different aspects of their life as a student-athlete is a big part of what makes being a student-athlete such a rewarding and formative experience,” said said Andry. “It’s difficult? Absolutely. Will they learn and grow through it? Without a doubt.”
Another aspect that some athletes are forced to sacrifice is their bond with their teammates. Free time that is usually spent playing Spikeball on the lawn should be set aside for their training, and invitations for night trips to fast food restaurants should be refused due to the large amount of sleep required by athletes.
This leads to athletes spending less time with their wings and more time with their teammates.
However, senior cross country runner Abbey Brennan was quick to dispel the idea that athletes prefer to spend time with their teams or in training.
“I think sometimes people think we’re not interested in doing things with the wing and with friends just because we’re busy all the time,” said Brennan. “But we also really like being a part of things.”
Daily exercise has a physical impact on the body, but it is the intensely competitive nature of the sport and the uncontrollable circumstances that can take a mental impact on an athlete.
Brennan gave an important reminder about mental health and how imperative it is to tackle mental health issues.
She spoke about how the loss of a family member a year ago made her very sad and depressed, impacted her performance and was something she had to balance with her athletic responsibilities.
“Although I wasn’t necessarily diagnosed with anxiety or depression, I had these feelings,” Brennan said. “I think even though not everyone is diagnosed with something, I think everyone has things that are difficult to go through that should be addressed.”
The sports department has taken steps to take care of the mental health of athletes, including bringing in Kathy Chamberlain from the varsity counseling center to speak to the teams and share with them the resources available at the campus counseling center.
Athletes have to juggle all of these things in addition to their training and preparation.
“You know there are times when athletes just can’t do things, hang out with people, whatever,” Hardy said. “And a lot of times people misinterpret these things as the athlete who doesn’t want to hang out with them, when the athlete probably has a game tomorrow, or needs to catch up on homework or go to bed early.”