Have you ever been interested in continuing your athletic career at the collegiate level, but didn't know what to expect? Or have you ever just been curious about what the life of a college student-athlete is like? Well, I have answered "Yes" to both of those questions in the past and frequently as I meet more student-athletes. As a high school student, I would have loved to get some of this insight on college athletics and, nowadays, I am always amazed at how they juggle school and sports and social life; so, I took it into my own hands to get some answers.

I reached out to some friends of mine who are student-athletes at the college level and asked them ten quick questions about their experiences as athletes. Hopefully, if you're a prospective student-athlete or are on the fence about continuing your athletic career in college or just want to know more, that you are able to gain some insight from this article!

So here is some insight from student-athletes after a brief Q and A!

Emma, Freshman

Ball State University

Elementary Education and Spanish Double Major

Bradley Caudill

Q1: What sport are you involved in?

A1: Cross Country and Track and Field

Q2: What division is your university/college?

A2: Division 1

Q3: What was the recruitment process like for you? (Or joining the team in general)

A3: Recruiting here at Ball State really stood out because the team seemed so excited and so welcoming. Also, on my visit, the coach at the time took me to see where Target was, so basically that sealed the deal! Haha, but I knew Ball State's team was a team I wanted to be a part of. I knew we'd be rebuilding the program going in, and it's been fun to see the progress made so far. Joining this team was the best decision I could've made.

Q4: How did the team start to bond before the season and during it?

A4: One of the older girls on the team invited us to her house in Michigan for a camp! It was so fun to see most of the team together just having a good time. This season, we seriously bond every day at practice. But the freshmen will all go out to the dining halls together afterward, and we have been known to sit in the dining hall for hours just talking! Some of the girls on the team have a house and they invite us over a bunch and we always have a good time!!

Q5: Similarly, what is the team atmosphere like?

A5: This team is so kind and supportive. You'd think a group of 14 girls (38 if you count everyone besides distance!) would have so much drama. But we really don't! Everyone gets along so well and it's really fun to be a part of this team. I have made so many lifelong friends in my teammates and I'm just so thankful for them! We always push each other during the workouts because we all genuinely want to succeed together.

Q6: What is a regular week of training like?

A6: Personally, I run 40 miles a week. This consists of 2 hard workouts a week, a long run, and the rest of the days are just base runs that we do in between those days. On top of that, I am expected to do an additional 3 hours of low-impact cardio a week and we also lift twice a week.

Q7: How did this team differ from any high school team you were a part of?

A7: Basically the way I like to describe this is the phrase, "you win some, you lose some." Not even referring to just winning and losing though. In high school, practices are usually easier, but you're not as good. In college, every day is so hard, but you know you're getting better. I'm high school, your teammates are your friends, but in college, your teammates are your family.

Q8: What was your experience getting to know new coaches?

A8: My experience was probably different than most. I got recruited by a coach who no longer coaches at ball state, so our new coach was totally new to everyone on the team. It was kind of like everyone was a freshman again. But it's been really awesome to have these coaches because they truly know what they're doing and I've seen a lot of progress in my running.

Q9: What is/are the best and worst thing(s) about being a student-athlete?

A9: The best thing is definitely the team and the free gear!! The worst part is how all-consuming it can be at times, but it is always worth it!

Q10: What advice would you give future student-athletes?

A10: Remember that just because it's hard, doesn't mean you're untalented or not good enough! It's just hard, and it will get easier!! Keep going! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so don't give up because of a few hard days.


Sara, Junior

Grand Valley State University

Elementary Education Major

Olivia Mabry

Q1: What sport are you involved in?

A1: Track and Field

Q2: What division is your university/college?

A2: Division 2

Q3: What was the recruitment process like for you? (Or joining the team in general)

A3: Personally, I reached out to the coach first. We talked for some time and I would send him videos of my performances. He came to some of my indoor meets during the winter of my senior year. I was able to go on a visit during the year and meet some of my future teammates. I was able to sit down and talk about what the team is like and how they were able to handle college work and college athletics. Also on my visit, I was able to sit down 1 on 1 with my coach and talk about the expectations I would have when joining the team.

Q4: How did the team start to bond before the season and during it?

A4: Before the competition season started we have fall conditioning. This is when practices are really tough. Before we started practice we have 2-3 weeks to get into the swing of the semester. At this time our coach does not allow us to do any running workouts. While we still need to be active and get to know each other on our team, we would play beach volleyball, spike ball, and some other activities where we would be interacting with each other. Once we started fall conditioning we were always together, on the weekends we would always find some type of thing to do as an event group. As a full team, we had some activities, such as going to football games and going to other school events altogether. Since there are 160+ track and field athletes it's hard to find events that we can all go together.

Q5: Similarly, what is the team atmosphere like?

A5: The team atmosphere is always so welcoming but at the same time we are all here to get work done. Everyday [when] we walk into the Kelly Turf Building at least someone on the team is there. Someone is always there saying hi to you and asking you how you are doing. It's always comforting walking into practice with such a welcoming team. Even when you have a bad day you are able to walk into practice and feel so thankful.

Q6: What is a regular week of training like?

A6: A regular week of training for me is practice every day Monday through Friday, with the weekends off unless we have a meet. Two days a week are set aside to specific pole vault drills and workouts while the two other days are set aside to running workouts. We lift every day but Wednesdays as this is our "meet stimulation" day. Every week the day before a meet we have our pre-meet practice. This involves our warmup, a combined upper and lower lift, and some strides. Coming into college I was very confused as to why we would do such an intense combined lift the day before a meet but now as a junior, I understand that not being fresh for the meet in the season helps prepare ourselves for postseason meets when we do not do combined lifts beforehand.

Q7: How did this team differ from any high school team you were a part of?

A7: This team differs a lot in the way of how intense it is. The people on this team chose to be on this team and chose to put 100% effort in day after day. The team members are very committed to doing their best and being here for a reason. Many teams in high school had people that would get away with being lazy and not trying their absolute hardest. Being on a collegiate team there is no room for you to be lazy and put in half the effort. You chose to be here and you can choose to leave if you don't want to put in the effort that your team deserves from you.

Q8: What was your experience getting to know new coaches?

A8: It was definitely a different situation than high school. The coaches you have now chose to have you, they chose to have you on the team because they can see you being a good addition to the team and can see potential in you from an athletic standpoint. They wanted you on the team so it wasn't too hard to get to know them.

Q9: What is/are the best and worst thing(s) about being a student-athlete?

A9: There are a lot of good things about being a student-athlete. One of the best thing about being a student-athlete is just being on a team and being able to do something you love at a collegiate level. I always have a friend somewhere on campus with me. It is so cool to be able to walk through campus and see about 5 of my teammates. It is also cool to meet other athletes from other teams and bond with them.

In the other side, I really don't know what the worst thing about being a student-athlete is. Yeah there are things that we miss out on because we are on an athletic team, but we chose to be on the team and honestly being on the team is such a good opportunity and I would way rather be doing something with my team and building better relationships with people on my team than missing some type of event that won't really matter in the future.

Q10: What advice would you give future student-athletes?

A10: Advice I would give to a future student-athlete would be that if you really want to do a collegiate sport and your heart is really in that sport do it, you won't regret it. At first, it may be tough trying to time manage and get used to college classes but if your heart is in the sport and you really want to be apart of the team time management seems to not really exist.


Grace, Freshman

University of Dayton

Early Education Major

Grace Mazurek

Q1: What sport are you involved in?

A1: Ultimate Frisbee

Q2: What division is your university/college?

A2: Division 1

Q3: What was the recruitment process like for you? (Or joining the team in general)

A3: The team is a no-cut sport, which was great because I had never played before. The girls were never impatient with me when I didn't know how to do things. Overall joining the team wasn't too stressful of a process for me.

Q4: How did the team start to bond before the season and during it?

A4: The team seemed very close when I got on it, with a bunch of nicknames and stuff like that. It wasn't until our first tournament that I knew I loved those girls and wouldn't miss practice again. We spent the entire weekend together and endured such a tiring tournament, but it was worth it to find a team like mine.

Q5: Similarly, what is the team atmosphere like?

A5: Super supportive and a general sense of family. It also seemed very accepting.

Q6: What is a regular week of training like?

A6: Well, right now it's a little funky depending on the weather. We [have practice] inside or outside but here are our two schedules (we all pray for the outside one).

Inside:
Sunday: 12-2
Monday: conditioning groups: my group is from 7:30-8
Wednesday: 6-7:15
Thursday: We have conditioning but I have class so I condition with another teammate who can't make it Thursdays.

Outside:
Sunday: 12-2
Monday: 6-8
Wednesday: Conditioning where you can go anytime from 6-7:15 (You just have to send a photo to prove you went.)
Thursday: This is actual practice but I still condition with my friend.

Q7: How did this team differ from any high school team you were a part of?

A7: Waaaayyy less petty than girl teams. There are hierarchical levels with high school teams and on this team, we are all equal. Sure some are on different playing levels but that doesn't mean any of us are treated any differently.

Q8: What was your experience getting to know new coaches?

A8: My coach is an actual badass. She has once shown up to a tournament with a black eye and no one said a word. Badass. She also is the most athletic human I've ever seen and I feel utterly BLESSED when Nancy complements me.

Q9: What is/are the best and worst thing(s) about being a student-athlete?

A9: The best is the people and having so many more friendly faces on campus. Also always having someone to help. The worst is just a busy schedule and long tournaments that consume your life and your weekend.

Q10: What advice would you give future student-athletes?

A10: It is a scary idea to try a sport in college that you have never tried before, but I tried out for this team all on my own. Although I was unsure of what to do, I was so happy I did it and found another family away from home.


Alejandro, Freshman

Miami University

Architecture Major

Mrs. Flores

Q1: What sport are you involved in?

A1: Cross Country and Track and Field

Q2: What division is your university/college?

A2: Division 1

Q3: What was the recruitment process like for you? (Or joining the team in general)

A3: Very awesome. It was great to be recruited by a D1 school. Made me feel very important and wanted.

Q4: How did the team start to bond before the season and during it?

A4: All the freshman texted before. We also went to a camp together a couple of weeks before school to run and get to know everything.

Q5: Similarly, what is the team atmosphere like?

A5: The whole team is so close. Mostly my class (the freshmen) are so close. We eat together every day, we talk to each other every day, we literally do everything together.

Q6: What is a regular week of training like?

A6: Practice every day for about 3hrs [with] one day off.

Q7: How did this team differ from any high school team you were a part of?

A7: This team is definitely closer and gives me more opportunities to fix injuries.

Q8: What was your experience getting to know new coaches?

A8: It was actually pretty easy. Our coaches are young so we can talk to them pretty comfortably.

Q9: What is/are the best and worst thing(s) about being a student-athlete?

A9: I literally have 0 time and get 0 sleep with my major, being an athlete, and being in ROTC.

Q10: What advice would you give future student-athletes?

A10: You are always a student first... But if you are given the opportunity to compete in college never turn it down. You only get to do this once.


Casey, Freshman

University of Toledo

Nursing Major

Casey Reed

Q1: What sport are you involved in?

A1: Cross Country

Q2: What division is your university/college?

A2: Division 1

Q3: What was the recruitment process like for you? (Or joining the team in general)

A3: [I] received a direct message on Instagram from the assistant coach saying they wanted to have me for a visit. I got to meet some of the girls on the team and tour the facilities. I also got to run with some of the girls on the team.

Q4: How did the team start to bond before the season and during it?

A4: We had a three-day camp. We stayed in a cabin in the middle of nowhere and played games and cooked and hung out.

Q5: Similarly, what is the team atmosphere like?

A5: The team atmosphere was welcoming. But also coming in as a freshman, they had their clicks so it was hard.

Q6: What is a regular week of training like?

A6: Sunday morning[s we had a] 7 a.m. long run. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday afternoon [we had a] run. Tuesday and Friday [we had a] 6:30 a.m. workout. Monday and Wednesday we had lifting in the morning. And Saturday was [a] run on our own.

Q7: How did this team differ from any high school team you were a part of?

A7: My high school team only had like 10 girls where this one has over 20. There was a lot more practice and working in the training room to help with recovery. Practice was a lot hard[er]. The coach was not as involved with me [as] my high school coach was.

Q8: What was your experience getting to know new coaches?

A8: My experience with the coaches were not great. I was injured a lot so I didn't see them as much as everyone else did. So they would only talk to me to tell me what I was doing wrong. And because I was slower they didn't acknowledge me like they did the faster girls.

Q9: What is/are the best and worst thing(s) about being a student-athlete?

A9: The best thing was the gear we got and being able to travel and all the fun perks. The worst was the minimum of 4 hours a day spent on the sport and being exhausted all the time and finding time to study and do homework yet go to practice and all that.

Q10: What advice would you give future student-athletes?

A10: Talk to girls on the team and find out what the program is actually like. Heavily weigh the pros and cons before doing it. And remember why you started doing it in the first place.


Hannah, Sophomore

Trine University

Health and Physical Education Major with a Coaching and Exercise Science Minor

Scott Nelson

Q1: What sport are you involved in?

A1: Ice Hockey and Lacrosse

Q2: What division is your university/college?

A2: Division 3

Q3: What was the recruitment process like for you? (Or joining the team in general)

A3: A lot of emails were sent out to coaches trying to get coaches to watch my future hockey games. Also, a lot of college visits to see if you like the coach in person. I also had offers to practice with certain teams and such. It's very hard to get your name out there in Women's hockey if you just play for high school.

Q4: How did the team start to bond before the season and during it?

A4: We all had a really big GroupMe where we would talk about the most random things. We also ate meals together throughout the week.

Q5: Similarly, what is the team atmosphere like?

A5: The team atmosphere is very family like because a lot of people played with and against each other growing up.

Q6: What is a regular week of training like?

A6: In season we practice six days a week for two hours. We also lift twice a week. We have yoga one day of the week for an hour. Out of season, we skate [for] 1 hour five days a week with three lifts.

Q7: How did this team differ from any high school team you were a part of?

A7: Everyone is way more committed to the sport. People are there to practice and since playing time is competitive. It brings people motivation.

Q8: What was your experience getting to know new coaches?

A8: It was a very positive experience. I love my coaches. They are very business on the ice but off the ice, they are always willing to help me out with recommendation letters and are understanding.

Q9: What is/are the best and worst thing(s) about being a student-athlete?

A9: [The] best part is playing at home in front [of] a huge crowd. I never got that in high school. The negative part is that we do not get athletic scholarships, which make it hard to get a job since the schedule is so intensive.

Q10: What advice would you give future student-athletes?

A10: Always be nice to your teammates, coaches, and people around you. Your reputation is very important. Your reputation can take you great strides.

It has been a fun experience for me writing this article to get this insight from these amazing athletes and friends! And I just want to send a special shoutout to them for taking the time out of their busy schedules to help give such great content to share with you all!