I want to tell you a little bit about my journey as a D1 basketball athlete since it’s been different from many other athletes. The reason I say this is because I am a sixth-year student-athlete who is also a graduate student. The NCAA rules state that an athlete can play four years of a sport in five years, but the NCAA granted me the opportunity to play four years of my sport in 6 years due to two injuries.
I started my academic and athletic career at Vanderbilt University, where I graduated from. I then transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for my last two years of eligibility and my master’s program.
Now that I gave you a little background information, I can give you a little glimpse into my days as a graduate student-athlete, they are slightly different from an undergraduate student-athlete.
While in and out of season, my day starts with a breakfast and a big cup of coffee. Breakfast is probably the most important meal of the day and can give you energy throughout the day. Being a master’s student, I never have class during the day, so I spend the mornings playing Uber driver for teammates. If I am not playing Uber driver, I am normally spending my day working on assignments, watching game film, or relaxing until practice and workouts.
After lunch is when the magic happens for the women’s basketball team. This spring semester, we had the late practice block (4-7 pm) since we share our practice gym with the men’s basketball team and we share our arena with men’s basketball and men’s hockey teams.
Before practice, we get to the gym around 2 pm to do treatment and rehab so we can stay healthy and try to prevent as many injuries as possible. Rehab for me consisted of three days a week which are full of exercises that focus on my ankle, foot, and glutes. Also depending on the week, during the season, we have 2-3 lifts to maintain our strength. Out of season, we lift Monday through Friday. Then on Friday, we end with team competition, and if you win, you do not have to do a “punishment” exercise. These competitions consist of racing on the rowers; farmer carries, versa-climber, and many other exercises that push you outside your comfort zone.
During the season, once the lift is done, we get taped or braced up and head into the film room. The film can last from 15 minutes to as long as an hour depending on if we are watching game film, going over scout, or watching practice film. Immediately after film, we head to practice, which lasts around 2-2.5 hours.
Practice typically ends around 6:30 or 7 pm, but we won’t be out of the Kohl Center until about 8 pm because recovery is vital. After practice, we take an ice bath, or we do NormaTec to make sure legs are recovered after long practices. Along with that recovery we also see our athletic trainer for stem, ice cup massages, cupping or anything else you need to prepare for the next day of practice or game. Once we are recovered, we have a team meal at the training table, and after dinner, everyone goes their separate ways.
For me, after practice, I usually have to rush to class because my classes are from 7:15 to 9:45 pm. While I am in class, some of my teammates usually go to tutors, study hall, study groups and finish up their homework. After a long day, we go to bed to then wake up the next morning around 8, or 9 am to do it all over again.
Along with our hectic schedule comes the occasional off day. We are grateful for these off days because it allows us to step away and get work done without focusing solely on basketball. These days typically consist of catching up on work, running errands, recovery, and meeting with professors to catch up on things missed in class due to travel for our sport.
Even though student-athletes have hectic schedules, it is worth the time and commitment to play the sport you love with some of your best friends.
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