The Difference Between A High School and College Athlete

The Difference Between A High School and College Athlete

Nothing comes easy.
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High school sports are some of the greatest times in a young athlete’s life. You begin to play with a group of people that you will surround yourself with for your high school career, if you play all four years.

This is a great experience for anyone in any sport, but it has no comparison to being a student athlete for your college. When you get to college everything you thought you knew about your sport changes and you have to start over.

Participating in a college sport is a very humbling experience for a student athlete, you have to adjust to a college schedule and manage all your classes, along with your sport. This is an experience that changes who you are as a person.

High school sports teams are filled with many different types of players. For example there is the kid that doesn’t enjoy playing the sport, but they love the game so they play in high school to keep it in their life.

Then you have the kids who aren’t actually fans of the sport, but they were put into it at a young age and it’s the only thing they have ever known, so they continue to play to feel comfortable. Then there are the kids who do not care about winning or losing, they are just happy to be there and they have fun playing regardless of the outcome.

As far as talent goes, whichever category you fall into does not dictate the talent you possess, these categories are mainly about mindset. Whether you are the best or the worst on your high school team you are still a part of a team and you work together with your team to reach your goal.

Now regarding the members of the team, some are better than others and then there are some who go on to continue their athletic career in college. These are the dedicated athletes; the ones who eat, breathe, and sleep their sport. Everything they do revolves around making themselves better in their sport.

When you have one of these kids on your team everyone knows who they are. When visiting teams come to your school to play your team the visiting team fears this player. Rumors begin to spread that this player has committed to play at a big time division one school in college and everyone wants to watch them perform.

Whether it’s on your team or another when that person steps into the spotlight everyone stops to watch, because they know something special is happening. Once their senior season comes to an end, they go down as one of the best to ever play it at their school.

Even years after they are done, this player is still talked about because of their high school accomplishment,; but after high school everyone stops following this player to focus on the next potential big shot that rolls through and that players college career may go unnoticed.

Once you get to college, you face new challenges every day and the simple adjustment of becoming a college student is not an easy one. You begin to live on your own away from home and you are becoming an adult with your own responsibilities.

You set your own priorities and have the freedom to do what you want. That’s as a regular college student, but not for the student athlete. As a student athlete, you have two main priorities, class and sports.

When you get to college as a student athlete you begin to realize how “next-level” college sports really is. The two hour practices after school don’t exist anymore, your life revolves around your sport and you spend all of your time either in class or with your team.

It becomes clear very quickly that the only focus you should have is school and sports, and if you feel you need more time to hang out with your friends and sports are consuming your time, then college sports isn’t for you.

Once you finally meet your team, you begin to realize the difference between college and high school. All those kids that don’t enjoy playing the sport, or the ones that don’t care about winning and losing all disappear, they simply don’t exist.

Everyone is there for the same reason as you and the sooner you realize that the better off you will be. There are no slackers and lollygaggers, and everyone is a hard worker. These are some things you realize before you even begin to compete with them, once you get ready for your first practice your eyes will truly be opened.

Your first college practice puts a lot of pressure on you as a college freshman. You want to make a good impression on the players and the coaches and all the returning players are personally evaluating you as well to see how you stack up against college level athletes.

When you begin, you realize all the automatic success you saw in high school isn’t so automatic anymore. Every player was the superstar at their high school and you immediately feel out of place. You have always been a top tier player, one of the best and now you feel as if you are just in the middle of the pack. It isn’t something you are very used to and it takes some adjustment.

This is why I previously mentioned college sports are a humbling experience; because no matter how good you think you are your college team is filled with players just as good or better than you are. Nobody on your college team is a bad player, they have all put in the time and effort to get to the college level and now you have to compete for a spot and it’s a battle.

The early stages are a tough time for a newcomer like yourself and in some cases struggling players begin to question themselves; they begin to wonder if they are good enough to play at this level. In some cases fear settles in and you even question your abilities.

This is when the time comes that you need to work harder than ever to prove to not only yourself but your team that you belong there.

Getting to this stage wasn’t easy, it was a grind, but a rewarding one. Once you gain this confidnece, it will be easier than ever to perform at your highest level. Once you prove to yourself that you are where you should be, the rest will take care of itself and things become easier than ever.

Achieve this confidence in yourself, work hard, and you will be able to reach your full potential and become the complete college athlete you know you can be.

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It Took Me 4 Years And $100K To Realize Why Poor Kids Like Me Don’t Go To College

But now that I know, I can't get it out of my mind.

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I grew up poor.

There, I said it. It's out in the open now—I don't come from a family that has a bunch of money. In fact, my family doesn't have much money at all. My single mother works in fast food and does a DAMN good job trying to support herself and the rest of us. A lot of the food my family gets comes from food pantries. We have received government assistance before. I grew up poor, but I haven't let that define me.

Especially when it came to going to college.

I didn't want to let my economic background hold me back from my potential. I wanted to be the first person on both sides of my family to receive my college degree. I wanted to get a better paying job and moving up in socioeconomic status so I don't have to be the "poor" girl with the "poor" family all my life. I'm not really ashamed of coming from a poor family, but I also don't want to be poor my entire life.

For a majority of my college career, I wondered why there weren't many poor students around me at college. I go to a public university, and it's just the same price as any other state school really. Coming from a lower income home, I did receive a lot of assistance, and without it, there's no way in hell I could be here. I know that many other lower-income students can get this same assistance, which really made me wonder why there was such a lack of other poor kids around me.

I mean, everyone posts videos from their nice, upper-middle-class homes on Snapchat over holiday breaks while I go back home to the trailer park.

Everyone can call mom or dad and ask for money when things get rough while I pay for 100% of the things I own because my mother simply cannot afford it.

Everyone walks around in their name-brand clothes while I'm rocking Walmart knockoffs. It's not something I thought about for a couple years in college, but once I noticed it, I couldn't think of anything else.

It took me nearly all four years of college to realize why there's such a lack of poor students at my average, public university. Poor students are set up for failure in college. It's almost designed to be a survival of the fittest when it comes to us lower-income students, and those of us who are deemed the fittest and do make it to graduation day are typically stuck with a lot of debt that we don't have the financial intelligence or support to even think about paying off.

Poor students are in the minority in college, and when you're in a minority anywhere, surviving can be difficult. When it costs $100 just for a 5-digit code to do your homework, it can be hard to stay in school. When the cost of living on campus is $10,000 or rent for an apartment is nearly $500 a month, it can be hard to stay in school. When you don't have a car because you can't save up the money for one and your parents can't help you, it can be hard to stay in school. When you're forced to get a minimum wage, on-campus job that limits your to twenty hours a week, it can be hard to stay in school. When all of your friends don't understand why you can't go out to eat or to the bar every weekend, it can be hard to stay in school. All of these reasons add up to the main reason why poor kids don't go to college—the odds are stacked against us.

I never had shame in my socioeconomic status until I went to college. In my hometown, I wasn't much less than the norm. Now, my home life is drastically different than that of all of my friends. I know that this is something that is never going to change because when I enter the workforce in less than a year, I'll be going in as the first member of my family with a college degree. People will treat me differently when I tell them this, even if I don't want them to. People will treat me differently when they ask where my parents work and I tell them McDonald's. It's an unfortunate reality that I cannot control.

It took me nearly all four years to realize why poor kids don't go to college, but now that I know, I can't get it off my mind.

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Serena Williams Fights Sexism at US Open

The way we treat male and female professional tennis players has to be the same.

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For 14 years I lived in Southern California, a hub for sports like tennis and water polo; many players that eventually sign to play division 1 sports or eventually enter the professional tennis world get their start in the sunny climate of California. Growing up near the greater Los Angeles area meant that I lived near where the greatest female tennis player of all time got her start. It's common knowledge that both Serena Williams and her sister Venus Williams have roots in Compton, a blue-collar city in Los Angeles known for its high crime rates.

I had the amazing opportunity of seeing Serena play in 2016 at the BNP Paribas played in Indian Wells, CA. Watching her sure power and her commandment of the court left me in awe. Growing up as a young girl playing tennis practically ensures having Serena as an idol, and I was no different. Naturally, seeing her slammed by critics for her outburst during the US Open earlier this September left me appalled. Set to win her 24th Grand Slam title, Williams lost to Naomi Osaka, the first Japanese man or woman to win a Grand Slam.

The problem that many see as controversial is the treatment of Williams by umpire Carlos Ramos, citing Williams's "verbal abuse" that cost her a game penalty and the point penalty because of a smashed racquet. This especially infuriated me because the male tennis players are frequently celebrated for their emotional outbursts; they are praised for their passion. This incident goes back to the traditional gender roles that we as a society celebrate. When a woman asserts, her dominance, she's bossy. When a man does, he's the man. We as a society accept anger more when it comes from a man than from a woman, and it needs to stop. The first step is recognizing sexism where it happens, which is what Serena did. I am now even more proud to call her my idol.

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