Throughout high school, I played lots of sports until I found my niche in Track and Field. I got pretty good by the time I was applying to colleges, and was recruited to run in college, thankfully. It's been a year since that exchange, and I have completed one full year playing that sport (pre-season and season) and wish to share my experience, as well as some pros and cons of playing a sport in college. Of course, this is my personal opinion, and it may differ greatly to your situation depending on the school you'll be at and the difficulty of your major. Nonetheless, let's get on with it.

PROS

Your teammates will become your closest friends. Between seeing each other at practice constantly and getting through close games, you will form some very strong bonds with at least a few of your teammates. This is good because it gives you a strong friend group right off the bat, especially if you start your season in the fall. (With winter and spring sports, you will still see your teammates during pre-season training, albeit not as much).

You will be better at time management. Now this was true for me and my teammates in Track and Field, though it may sound absurd. When I had practice scheduled into my day along with classes, labs and meetings, it forced me to use my time wisely. I knew I would be dead tired after dinner (which was right after practice) and could only do minimal studying, like reading passively for a class or responding to emails, before I would conk out. Thus I spent less time with my friends and opted to wake up a little earlier to finish my work when I was fresh. This meant I usually woke up and finished my work rather than dillydallying, because I simply didn't have the time or energy later in the day.

You'll be so fit. And I mean so fit. Being fit can do wonders for your academic life and general well-being because it greatly improves your health and therefore stamina. It also means you'll be less lethargic throughout the day, and over time opt for healthier meals in order to fuel your body better. This was very true for me, as I started to have less coffee and sweets because it would hurt my stomach come training time.

(Now, I'm one of those people who needs a team and someone else scheduling my training in order to actually work out. If you bear the willpower, you could by all means achieve this alone).

You'll feel a sense of accomplishment. When I hit the numbers I wanted to in a race or in the gym, it gave me an inexplicable feeling of joy. There is nothing like reaching your goals and knowing you put in the hard work to get there.

It gives you a distraction from school. I know this might sound bad, but it makes it so that if you have one bad test or a sucky day, then you can go to practice and remember the athletic goals you're working towards. It reminds you that you're well-rounded and broadens your perspective. This essentially diversifies your goals, making it easier for you to see the big picture and not panic over little things.

CONS

Less time with friends (outside of the sport). It's hard to see anyone when the only time you have is in 30 minute increments at random times throughout the day. Weekends are normally out of the question too, because of traveling and competing. You won't be able to go on spontaneous weekend trips or visit areas nearby because you simply don't have the time, and the few weekends you do have free you need to catch up on your studies.

Less time for other things, because the sport is a huge commitment (more or less depending on your school). I tried my best to stay involved in some clubs, but there was no way I could make every meeting. It was similarly difficult to keep a job or apply for an internship like some of my peers did while playing a sport.

It's exhausting. I could not stay up past 10pm no matter how hard I tried during season. My body was so tired, and most of the time achey and sore. I liked that I accomplished my goals athletically, but because of that my body almost always shut down a few hours after dinner. When my friends texted me at 11pm to go for a food run, I was almost always already asleep.

It's stressful. Racing is incredibly anxiety-inducing, as is any competition. You are hyper-aware of how your body and mind feel in order to perform as best you can. Your coach needs you to make a number or a time to win, and you need to make it for yourself. The days you do, it's amazing and heart-wrenching and overwhelming, but the days you don't you may only feel disappointment. Of course, you can't expect yourself to do perfectly every meet, no one does, but it's hard to understand that sometimes.

It can conflict with school, though not directly. Sure, you don't have practice during class. But you have three less hours than your peers to write your paper or study for an exam, an exam which may very well make or break your grade. I remember I could only make an hour of my economics professor's office hours between class and practice, and that was instead of going to dinner. Plus, other people would usually already be there waiting to get a question answered before me. Of course, hopefully your professors and coaches will help you out so that you can make the time for these things, but it doesn't always happen. Thankfully, my economics professor would stay after class instead to help me with any problems I had.

 

So,


In all, the difficulty of keeping up a sport in college varies based on your school and your major. As a double major in Economics and Engineering, my academics were a heavy weight, but since I did Track and Field, an individual sport (besides relays), my coach allowed me to practice on my own occasionally.

In the end, you have to keep in mind what your goals are and what you want your future to look like. If you enjoy the sport and it's working out for you, by all means, keep doing it. But if you want to seek out other opportunities, you can allow yourself to move on.

Running track freshman year was a great experience for me, as it taught me discipline and helped me become integrated with my team and college in general. I highly recommend doing it your first year if you played sports throughout high school, just to see for yourself. 

 

Check me out at https://howtocollegeweb.wordpress.com/ for more college-related posts, and how to contact me.
 

 

Published by Sabrine G