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The huddle

December 9, 2018

What is it Like to Be a DI Athlete?

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Photo by GW Sports

Being a Division 1 student-athlete comes with a mixture of either feeling like you are a big deal on campus or you are just another student. Many great things come out of being a college athlete, but there are some hurdles you must get over. Being on a DI  women’s basketball team you have to train all year round. You are required to be at the college for summer session II and are encouraged to stay for summer session I (which I highly recommend). In the fall is when you will start pre-season, which entails you to lift four days a week, condition two days, and have individual basketball workouts two days a week. This is on top of starting a new semester, joining clubs, and getting into the swing of your classes. Early October is when the action begins. My DI sport starts with a 20 hour training week which means we can practice basketball at the discretion of our coaches. No fear the coaches will follow the NCAA rules. November is when our games start, and we will continue to play up until March.

When you are making your decision on what college you want to play a sport for please keep these suggestions in mind.

When you are actively being recruited by mail, emails, and phone calls pour in from different universities and colleges to which they are all trying to persuade you to come to their school can feel overwhelming. While there may be a wide variety of schools contacting you, it takes one to grab your attention. More than likely what catches your attention might be the name of the school. Schools such as Duke, Florida State, Stanford, South Carolina, Alabama, etc will grab the eye of many athletes. While all of these schools are great, they may not fit your wants and needs. I am sure many of you are aware that there is much more to college than just the name on your jersey. When looking for the right college fit for you keep these things in mind.

Convenience can be in the forefront of an athletes mind when making a decision on what college they want to attend. How far away is the dining hall, field, gym, town and classes from your dorm? Is the campus so vast that you feel like you are walking more throughout the day than studying? I love George Washington because everything is very convenient, so if convenience is essential to you then you will have to think about this when visiting colleges. I also love the fact that GW is located right in the heart of Washington, D.C., where everything I need is at my fingertips. You can take a 20-minute metro ride to Tysons Corner and shop at some great stores or walk 30 minutes and be at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. What is better than that? I would say nothing.

The Distance from the college to your home can be a factor for you. The first thoughts you might have when looking at a college is, “I can’t wait to move out of the house and be on my own.” Once you have achieved that goal, you will see how much you will want to visit your parents. I live 45 minutes away from home, and I tend to go home to relax at least every other week. Home is where the heart is. I would not recommend this for everyone because everyone’s wants and needs are different.

Attending a school that has your major is vital. You really should have some idea. When I began college, I had no clue what I wanted to major in, which can be a little nerve-racking because if the school did not have the major I ended up picking, I would have been shit out of luck. After getting my first year under my belt and taking some classes, I became passionate about sports reporting. GW has an excellent Media and Public Affairs program which is helping me turn my dream into a reality.

Next, you want to ask about the class sizes. If you are thinking about a DI school odds are the first two years you will have big classes; these are typically your intro classes or required classes. Once you narrow down what you want to study in, the class sizes will be more focused, and the class sizes will be smaller.

A professor can make a difference when it comes to learning. First and foremost as an athlete you will have to try to schedule classes around your workouts and practices. Secondly, choose a course with a professor that understands and is flexible with the fact that you are an athlete. there might be times where you will have to miss a class due to your playing schedule.  I would recommend a professor that does not sway your thinking in any shape. Some might push their views on you which is not what a good professor should be doing. Ratemyprofessor.com is a blessing when it comes to getting reviews from students on experiences with teachers.

Let’s talk athletics! What are your expectations when it comes to your sport?  Do you expect to play a lot? When choosing a college, you have to decide whether you want to make an impact right away or if you want to ease your way in. When choosing GW, I knew that I would be playing alongside a strong sophomore and junior forward, so I did not expect to play that much. Which I was perfectly fine with, I looked at the bigger picture and knew that I could learn so much from them and I knew if I worked hard and was a good team player I would have my time on the court. If you want to be an athlete that wants to play right out of the gate, then ask the recruiting coach what your odds are. You can also check out college coach rating at LRT Sports. That is another way that you can see what athletes have to say about college coaches. You want to make sure a coach is not feeding you a line of BS just to get you on their roster.

Fitting in with a team is necessary especially if you want to feel like you apart of a family. Going on official visits can help with this. These overnights can give you the opportunity to see how the team interacts with one another, and you might have the opportunity to hear what the team is saying about the coaches which can help with your decision. If you do not feel the vibe, then go with your gut.

Finding the right coach might not be easy, but it is worth the research. You want a coach that will care about your academics as well as the sport. You want them to care about the team as a whole, one that will not blatantly favor some athletes over others. This does not mean that you will be actively playing but if you are on the team working hard to play then the coaches should recognize this and they should be encouraging. You want a coach that does not beat around the bush, you want them to be an honest coach that will tell you what they expect of you and what it is they are looking for. Do not challenge coaches; you can express yourself in a mature non-confrontational way. Again, you can see ratings and reviews on college coaches at LRT-Sports.com.

Good luck in your journey and remember that playing a college sport is a privilege.

Read more about Keli Prange: https://gwsports.com/news/2018/2/14/Prange_Scores_1_000th_Point_as_Women_s_Hoops_Holds_Off_UMass_55_49.aspx

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