It was really weird to be home on Thanksgiving this year. That didn’t happen three out of my four years in college; my basketball team was always traveling on holidays. As a kid, you think the world stops for holidays, everybody is supposed to celebrate. But in reality, that just isn’t the case, especially in athletics.
Breaks, holidays, free time all fall into the category of “sacrifices as a college athlete.” A holiday is a day off from practice and for the devout hard-workers, even a day off is not entirely off. College athletics is a big-time business, and if you are fortunate enough to be a part of a team, missing team-related events isn’t really an option.
Your approach to these sacrifices and others will be instrumental in your career as a college athlete. I once read that you use more muscles to frown than you do to smile, which for me means it takes far more energy to complain rather than just get something done with a decent (not even good) attitude.
You’re going to be thrown so many curve balls as a college athlete, from professors to coaches. It’s your job to figure out how to get it all done. I continue to impress upon young athletes the importance of the mental aspect of being a student-athlete. Your attitude will determine so much, from who is willing to work with and for you, to how far you will allow yourself to go.
Transition Game has allowed me to touch upon a number of different topics and issues that you will face as a college athlete. But by sharing my experience, I am still only touching the tip of the iceberg for what your experience may be. The one recurring theme in all my pieces is the importance of your attitude.
Know that you will be pushed farther than you have ever been pushed both physically and mentally, but embrace it. Now that I’ve fallen into the ranks of a “norm,” I pull from so many of my experiences as an athlete to find energy and achieve success. I light up when I get the chance to recap my career and experience as a student-athlete, although in the midst of it all there were times I shed many tears.
The thing is, being a college athlete isn’t something you should attempt to do if you are not serious. I can’t tell you how many college athletes have commented that their sport “is no longer fun.” If you ever catch yourself saying that, stop and ask yourself why.
If you’re losing — duh, losing isn’t fun. If you’re not playing as much as you’d like, I’d imagine that isn’t fun either. Your coach hates you, or chemistry problems on your team — yeah, zero fun as well. But what about YOU?
Are you doing everything in your power to get your team back to winning? Are you all in and dedicated, or just along for the ride? Why aren’t you playing? Have you addressed the holes in your game that keep you from the minutes you expect to see, or is it someone else’s fault?
Chemistry issues: it helps to get along with your teammates, but in all honesty, what does that have to do with playing? If I’m playing pick-up, I play with five strangers that all have the same goal and get it done.
I had a blast in college, but I also understood how it worked. It is business, it’s not personal, and sometimes it’s straight up no fun. But you can’t be discouraged; winning is fun, working hard and seeing the fruits of your labor is fun. The big misconception is fun just happens. Truth is, college athletics could be the most fun you ever have, if you work for it.
About Transition Game
Monica McNutt was an All-Met basketball player at Holy Cross Academy who went on to star for the Georgetown women’s team. She will be offering advice to high school athletes who are looking to make the leap to college sports.
Got a question for Monica, or an idea she can use for a future post? Leave it here in the comments, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @__MCM__.
Fine-tuning your “mistake response” (Nov. 22, 2011)
Looking beyond the stat sheet (Nov. 15, 2011)
Battling the “dumb jock” stereotype (Nov. 8, 2011)
Taking advantage of your athletic resume (Nov. 1, 2011)
College recruiting: Finding a program that fits you (Oct. 25, 2011)
Secrets to success: Food and rest (Oct. 11, 2011)
Introducing “Transition Game” (Oct. 4, 2011)