It’s that time of year, pre-season is starting all over North America for fall sports. For those of you starting your first year of university this is a time of HUGE CHANGE! Here are ten things that will help you get through preseason and the first month away from home:
Embrace your team as your family: Whether you are moving across the country, crossing borders, or staying in the same city you grew up in, things are about to change. Throughout your recruiting process you should have developed a strong relationship with your coaching staff. Treat your coaches like your parents away from home, they are there to support, encourage, and discipline you. Your team mates are your siblings, there is bound to be some sibling rivalry (expect that) but your team mates will be your support system as you adjust to this new life.
Fitness testing day Sucks: There is no way around it. It just Sucks! The best thing you can do is show up prepared as well as you can, and bust out all those tests to the best of your ability. Don’t let negative self talk get in your head. Encourage yourself, know you can get through it and be proud of yourself when it’s done!
Sleep on the floor: Pre-season is tough. In fact, at some schools, preseason will be the hardest athletic experience of your life thus far. Two a days, three a days, eat, sleep and breath training. You will be sore, you will be tired, and walking down stairs will be down right painful! Do yourself a favour and drag the mattress off the top bunk and put it on the floor. Trust me, you won’t be able to climb up there by day two.
Earn Respect: Be the hardest worker on the field. Show up early, do extra reps, ask questions, work harder than you have ever worked before. Earn the respect of your team mates, seniors, captains, coaches and staff. Understand that you are an underclassman and need to earn the right to represent your team in the starting lineup.
Time management: Balancing training, traveling and game schedules with classes, homework and projects is NOT easy! Schedule your time and stick to that schedule. Remember, your season is short, but intense. You will NOT have time during season to do all those extra curricular things that most college students get to do. Classes and academic work come first. Your team, training and competing are a close second. Everything else – parties, concerts, hangouts in the SUB etc will have to wait until after season is over.
One more thing – the sooner you realize that on time is late, the easier life will be! Be 10 minutes early for EVERYTHING!
Ask for help: If you are feeling overwhelmed, seek out support from your coaches, your athletic department, and your team mates. There are tutors to help with classes, there are people to talk to if you are home sick. If you are having trouble adjusting, you are never alone. Seek out help when you are feeling swamped and let your community support you through the first few months. The home sickness will pass as you get more comfortable with your new schedule, and surroundings.
Make friends everywhere: Make friends with other athletes, and non-athletes in your classes – they will help you balance your crazy training schedule with a more normal college experience. It will also give you an opportunity to get away from your team mates from time to time. While it is important to have strong relationships with your sport family, it is equally important to give yourself time away so you don’t get “too much of a good thing”photo: http://kodjoworkout.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/freshman-15.jpg
BEWARE the freshman fifteen: Yes, even as athletes who train day in and day out, the freshman 15 is a thing! Why? Dining halls that are open 24 hours a day (and often offer fries, mac-n-cheese, pizza, desserts, and lots of greasy and creamy foods) , athletic meal plans that allow you to eat for FREE, you will find you are constantly hungry from training all the time, stress over classes, exams, projects and balancing a full time athletic career. All this will feed into eating more often, eating more, and eating what’s available. Be careful to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. While it is important to eat enough to fuel your body during this busy time, make smart food decisions.
Follow the rules: ALL the rules. As an athlete you are a high profile representative of your team, your athletic department and your school. Go to class, keep your grades up, go to training, get all your study hall hours in, follow all your team rules, stay within the law. NO drinking if you are under age (those of you NCAA bound, this means 21). Be careful partying, and if you do attend parties, make sure you look out for yourself and your team mates.
Have fun! Enjoy every minute and file away these memories. Your college athletic years will be some of the best of your life! They will FLY by so fast and soon you will be a senior playing your very last game in your home stadium. The next few months will not be easy, but in the end, they will all be worth it!