Chances are if you make it to collegiate athletics, you have already put in countless hours, blood, sweat, and tears into the sport you play. Collegiate athletics is the next step in becoming a better athlete. But collegiate athletics is like a hidden life that only the dedicated and hard workers are privileged to get to experience. There is so much hard work, pain, fatigue, etc., that goes on behind each student athlete. It is a full time job to play college athletics and although the NCAA currently is against college athletes being paid, we spend countless hours working on our craft to bring in a substantial amount of revenue for the school. I mean lets face it, would schools like Alabama be so popular if coaches like Bear Bryant and Nick Saban didn’t recruit incredible talent to win national championships? However, this article is about the life of a student athlete.

While the average college student schedules classes later than 10 a.m., most student athletes have already been up since 6 and have gone to a practice and lifted weights. We must schedule our classes around our practices to make sure that we can give 100 percent in the classroom and at practice. I mean let’s face it, bad grades means we can’t compete. Some student athletes get the joy of going to class sweaty after lifting weights and not having any time to shower, whereas your average sorority girl comes in wearing a $500 outfit, straightened hair, and a full face of makeup. It is a blessing to somewhat look decent to class if you’re a student athlete.

When the average student shows up to class 45 minutes late, it often infuriates the student athlete that has been up since the crack of dawn and must be on time to class never knowing if there is a class checker there making sure you’re on time. We overhear the plans of what frat/sorority socials and parties are being held on week nights and know that if we even want to survive the next morning there is no way we can go out. Like I said, collegiate athletics takes full dedication. Some might say that student athletes are not smart, and they’re only there to play sports. My response to that would be try doing “20 hours” a week of practice and then being attentive every day in class (and all you college athletes know why that 20 hours is in quotations). It is not easy to be on top of all the work all the time when majority of the time you just want to fall asleep. The free time that we do have is spent at study hall getting mandatory hours and studying for upcoming tests. Our lives are practically spent complying to the rules our universities and the NCAA. Although it might seem that I am making an argument for why student athletes have it harder, we actually are the blessed ones.

Being a student athlete is much more than the hours we put in to our sport. It is much more than the early wake up time, the frustration with teammates, coaches, and your average student. Being a student athlete means that we get to put our school’s name on our back and represent it doing what we love. We have worked hard to accomplish where we are and that pride of stepping out on game day is worth every ounce of sweat.

Being a student athlete means you are among some of the most athletic peers in your age bracket that are experiencing the same college journey as you. You get to meet other athletes that are gifted, driven, dedicated, and so much more. You get to create bonds and friendships with people that all start because you share a passion for the same thing as them: being an athlete. It means that when you graduate you walk across that stage knowing you gave all you could in the classroom and you represented the university playing your sport, and that is a dedication only some will come to know.

Being a student athlete means that young kids look up to you in an admirable way and you have the influence to empower them and keep them reaching for their dreams. Only athletes understand what other athletes go through and because of that it creates unification between sports. When we look back at our time with collegiate athletics we won’t remember most how much we hated specific practices (although they will forever be embedded in our minds), yet we will remember the joy, happiness, and pride that was spent doing what we love with people that we love.