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College 101

A Day in the Life of a College Athlete
Article Type: Connect

So you’re trying to figure out if college athletics is right for you. Don’t you wish there was some website that had some examples of what a normal day would be like for a college athlete? It would be totally awesome if you’re favorite online academic resource could also give you some advice with your athletics. Come on, they give advice for extracurricular activities to pad your college résumé. Don’t sports count for that at least? See how we are building up your expectation for something we definitely have?

" See what we did there? Wink Wink, nudge nudge."


A normal day for a college athlete does not include getting massages from professors (that would be weird) or free gifts from the bookstore. Although college gear is always better when it's free, the average day when you are not in season looks a little something more like this:

You wake up to the sound of a blaring alarm from your phone and the sun is barely peeking over the tops of the buildings outside your window. Your roommate mumbles to shut off the alarm and you grab your phone as you make your way out to the kitchen. You get ready for the day. It’s 5:30 in the morning.

You grab a protein bar because you're a college student living in a dorm room, not a gourmet chef with a TV-ready kitchen. This 8 inch bar plus an apple and a Gatorade is your energy for the next six hours.

You quietly move back to your room and gather your things for the day. Your books and computer are already packed in your school bag from the night before. You dress in the dark so as not to disturb your roommate. They won’t be up for another couple of hours and will get grouchy if you wake them up now. They had a late night at a fraternity party last night.

You finish getting dressed and grab your keys from your desk, time to go. It’s 6:45 AM. Time flies when you're having fun. You jog down the four flights of stairs and open the door to the brisk cold. Your bike lock is slightly rusted and covered in ice, so it takes you a couple of minutes to force the thing open. Soon, you’re on your way to the gym.

Twenty minutes and three hills later, you have locked your bike up outside and are heading down the Inter Collegiate Athletics hallway to the locker room. You open your locker and dress with a couple of your teammates who are also there early. When each of you is done getting ready, you head down to the athletic training room to do some preventative exercises before practice. The rowers from the crew team are already there getting ice for their aching muscles. They have practice that starts at 4:00 AM. 

The clock strikes 8:30 AM, so you head out to the field to start practice. Two and a half hours later, sweaty, exhausted, and late for class, you run back into the locker room to grab your bag. You jog up to your bike and pedal across campus. It’s 11:05 AM and you are only 5 minutes late for your first class of the day. Your roommate wanders in at 11:13 AM. It’s their first class of the day too.

You finish with your classes at 4:00 PM, with only an hour break for lunch at 1:00. In History you fell asleep and then woke up in another class. "Yikes, how did I get here?" You are still wearing your practice gear and, even worse, you smell like you're still wearing your practice gear. You bike home and walk up the four flights of stairs to your apartment to shower. Your roommate is lying on their bed watching Game of Thrones on their laptop. They invite you to come out to the bonfire tonight. You say you’ll try to make it.

"You know nothing, Jon Shmoow."


You grab your bag and go back down the stairs to get your bike and head to the library. It’s 4:30 PM. You meet up with some people from the team, a couple volleyball players, and a water polo player in a study room in the library. All of you are in the same organic chemistry class and are working through the pre-med curriculum. The water polo player has a 3.95 GPA.

It’s 9:00 PM and you decide to get some dinner. You go home and cook some pasta, a lot of pasta, with some chicken and a salad. Your buddy on the team comes over and you go over the practice test for the math midterm that you both have tomorrow.

The clock hits 11:30 PM and your friend leaves to get some sleep. You go on the Internet and check your Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, emails, and watch a few Vines. Setting your alarm for 5:30 AM, you start to stream an episode of Arrested Development but fall asleep before you can finish it. Your roommate comes home at 2:00 AM and wakes you up. You fall back asleep to the sounds of their heavy snores, knowing that it will all happen again tomorrow. You wouldn’t have it any other way.

That seems pretty tough to us. Those athletes sure do seem committed and focused. Whoever thinks that athletes have an easier time in college is kidding themselves. And what’s with that roommate? We hope yours doesn't snore like that.

"No, not kidding themselves like the great Steve Carell. Their kidding is way more despicable."


Sure, that may be a normal day. You will experience lots of work and lots of stress, but don’t worry. That all changes once you start your season. Season is like spring dew on the leaves. It is like the frosting on a cupcake or the drama to the Jersey shore. It is the best part imaginable.

During season you have competitions every weekend. Every waking moment is filled with the excitement that you will be representing your school on the court, field, or in the water. You get to put on a jersey that says your school’s name and test yourself against the other college athletes from across the country. Plus, you still have to do all your schoolwork and somehow manage to eat and function normally. That part is pretty tough, but who cares, it’s just your degree and health, right? Who needs that when you’ve got sports!

Here is what an exceptional day during season might look like:

You wake up at 10:00 AM. Finally a day to sleep in! You head to the dining hall for its premier selection of morning vittles before taking your time on the way back to your room with a Gatorade and a banana. You consider mixing it up next time and getting a muffin next time, but who are you kidding? That potassium is all that stand between you and muscle cramps every five minutes.

You only have two classes today, and you almost forget about the first one starting at 12:00 PM. Your mind only has one thing on it today: the game. It’s game day, people, and a night game at that! Getting to play under the lights, the cool air filling your lungs as you run, wind lightly rushing through your hair, the grass slightly slick from the evening fog, making it so much easier to slide twenty feet when you score the game winning goal in overtime to make the sell-out crowd go nuts and start chanting your name…

Whoops, you’re still in class. Those daydreams can be pretty intense sometimes, and you’ve managed to miss the last 15 minutes of what the professor has been saying about the amygdala. It probably wasn’t that important anyway. It’s not like that will be on the final or anything.

You finish class at 2:00 PM, and your friend and teammate pick you up from the parking lot behind the engineering building. Off to Whole Foods. You consume a Whole Foods custom sandwich with grilled chicken, spinach, cucumber, onion, tomato, pesto mayo, avocado, olive oil, salt and pepper, along with the largest bottle of water you can find…It may sound excessive, but it's ritual. You don't mess with an athlete's superstitions.

"Oh yeah, that’s the good stuff."


Whoops, you’re drooling over this and you’re still in the car on the way to the supermarket. But its game day! Everything seems to move in slow motion, and the second hand on all clocks just won’t go around as fast. Somebody should definitely get those checked.

But you’ve got your food now, and you’re headed back to campus. It’s 3:30 PM. You don’t have to be in the locker room until 5:30 PM. The waiting is the hard part. What do you do? Should you nap? If you nap, you might wake up groggy and that wouldn’t be good for your pregame preparation. But if you don’t nap, you might be tired or flat for the game. The dilemma is too difficult to decide.

Eventually you just end up lying in bed on your computer, finally getting around to watching that Game of Thrones season you missed. The time seems to pass like a snail on a Sunday morning drive. Slow and steady. But finally the clock hits 5:00 and it's time to go. The rest of the day is a blur. You make your way to the locker room and go through the routine. You pick out your jersey and shorts and change. You shake all of your teammates’ hands. You get the athletic trainer to tape your ankle. You carefully put your socks on. Left, then right. You lace up your shoes. Left, then right. The order is of the utmost essence.

You listen to music to get you focused. The coach comes in and lays out the starting line-up and strategy for the game. Your phone shows the time. 6:00 PM. It’s go time. You walk with the rest of your teammates to the doors of the locker room that heads out to the field. You can hear the crowd already beginning to make noise in the stands. The doors open and the stadium lights momentarily blind you as you step out onto the field…

And from there, well the rest is up to you. This is the excitement that is bound to come with being a college athlete, although we an't promise the cheering crowd. You have to be successful to draw that kind of campus love and attention. Competition days like there only happen a few times during the year, but they are what make all your hard work worth it.

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