You should be proud. You are in select company. Not everyone can be a student-athlete. Not everyone will finish their four years as a student-athlete. It’s hard. It’s hard to find the balance between your studies and your sports. It’s hard to commit so much time to your sport, meet new people, make new friends, and take care of all of your responsibilities. It’s hard to challenge yourself every day and not take a second for granted. Here are a few pieces of simple, yet very important advice to help you out as you start out on this wonderful journey.
Embrace Every Moment
I promise you, it’ll end sooner than you think. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but the four years will go by in a blink of an eye. When you get to the end of your senior year, you’ll say: “where did the time go?” instantly your mind will start going back and thinking about all the coulda-shoulda-woulda’s. As you’re going through these years, every sprint, every win/lose, embrace every moment. So, when it ends, you will have no regrets.
There will be Bumps in the Road
As much as I wish I could tell you that these next four years are going to be perfect, they won’t be. There are going to be bad days and there are going to be times when you just don’t want to. You have to find a way to stay positive, to remember that bump isn’t forever, and a way to get past it. The good times far outweigh the bad.
Control the Controllables
Over the course of these next four years, you will get upset about things that are completely out of your control. You have control over how hard you work, how focused you are, how much you push yourself, how you eat and how much sleep you get before games or big tests.
“Confidence is key”. Everyone has heard that phrase before, but do you know how true it is? If you aren’t confident in who you are then the pressures of being a student-athlete will get to you. You have to be confident enough in your abilities that any mistake you make, you can shake it off. Especially as a freshman, it can be intimidating.
Be fearless! Oh man, it is so worthless to spend time afraid. Whether you’re afraid of failure, afraid of letting people down, afraid of the unknown; it’s not worth it. Being fearless gives you this freedom that is indescribable. It doesn’t come easy, but when you embrace fearlessness, you will instantly be 100% happier in your sport.
Oh man, if only I could go back and do this over again without taking shortcuts. It’s too easy to take shortcuts. Those moments when you just don’t care, or when you are tired, not feeling it; that’s when it really matters. The time you spend outside of practice or the games to work on strengthening certain skills, or the time you spend outside of class studying for a test to make sure you understand the concepts not just memorize it for the tests – these are the moments when you grow.
Don’t Stop Fighting
You’re very competitive. As loses come, as a season doesn’t go your way, you’re going to get in your head … “why am I doing this”, “what should I do”, “how can I fix this”. You will want to help everyone and change the whole mentality of your team. But I need you to never stop fighting. Never give up. Don’t let a moment slip by where you didn’t fight your very hardest.
Probably the most important piece of advice I could give. This game is fun. It’s fun to compete. Find that little kid inside of you, let them out, and let their fun and excitement and joy shine. Its easy to get caught up in the crazy competition of a sport, the atmosphere, the wins and losses – just don’t ever forget to have fun. What’s what you’ll remember when its all over. You’ll remember the FUN moments, not how many wins you had or whatever your stats were.
There you go, some simple yet important ideas to remember as you start off your career. As the old Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Now is the time to plant your tree. Now is the time to see into the future so that you have no regrets. These are a few of the tips that I can give to you so that you start off on the right foot and minimize your regrets.