Being a student athlete is not as easy as it seems. The gear, the trips, the scholarships, the fame; there are hours of stress that come with the responsibility. The games, the meets, the competitions are all a show, a show of how hard each team has worked. The countless miles on the track, the hours on the field, early mornings in the weight room, all lead to one thing. Winning.
The NCAA regulates that teams may only meet 20 hours a week for practices and film reviews. However, the time commitment doesn’t end when you step off the field. UAlbany strives to have just as much success in the classroom as on the court. “Weekends are the only times I have free time, but games and traveling can take away from that” said sophomore Patricia Conroy of the UAlbany Women’s Basketball Team. On top of hours and hours of practice on a daily basis, as students, these athletes owe it to themselves and the university to produce amazing grades. This can lead to a lack of sleep and additional stress from constant assignments and tests.
The schedule of the average student athlete revolves around the sport: classes, meals, power-naps and study time all revolve around practice times. What and when is eaten can drastically affect performance so athletes have to plan accordingly. Sophomore Soccer player Kaio DaSilva takes pride in what he puts in his body. "Nutrition is just as crucial as anything else you do to prepare. Your body is a machine and needs the right fuel to function. When the fatigue kicks in, you can't rely on soda and pizza" he said. The body of an athlete has to be maintained to ensure maximum performance.
Being a part of a successful team at a large university can take a mental toll on anyone. The trick is to learn to adapt and learn to keep progressing in the sport. Last spring the UAlbany Men’s Lacrosse team was ranked #1 in the nation numerous times periodically throughout the season. Sophomore Goalkeeper Jason Yoquinto said “Everyone was gunning for us, we held off some pretty good teams but the most important part was staying humble and keeping a level head” Through months of hard work, the Men’s Lacrosse team advanced through the NCAA championships and had the opportunity to play in Gillette Stadium as a part of the Final Four.
The hardest part of being an athlete is balance. The only way to see success in all aspects of the experience is to learn to manage the time, the emotions, and the physical grind. For America East Cross Country Conference Champion junior Hannah Reinhardt, she’s learned to put it together. “I can’t lie, school and running is hard. I’ve learned that it is important to get as much work done before practice because it can be mentally and physically exhausting” she said, “Most of the time I sit down for an hour or two and shut off my phone to hammer down assignments”. Despite balancing double majors, running 65-70 miles a week and balancing a social life, she comes out on top and learns through the process. “Through the highs and lows of running, I have learned how capable I am if I put my mind to it. The intrinsic fulfillment I get from running brings me back every day.”