As noted in our previous #StudentAthleteStory posts, these responses are perfect to be used as a guide and reference-point for high school athletes looking to take the proper steps to prepare themselves for college life as an NCAA student-athlete.
Athletically, what was the toughest part about making the transition from senior year of high school to freshman year of college? >> The level of play was the most challenging adjustment from high school to college. In high school, it's easy to perform well when you're always one of the best, one of the fastest and one of the strongest. In college, everyone is at that next level and it was a challenge, both mentally and physically, to shine among a group full of all-stars.
And what about academically? >> Academically, the greatest challenge came in the form of time management. As a student-athlete, your schedule is so packed and you have so many new, exciting things going on, it's easy to allow other things to take priority over your studies if you aren't disciplined.
How did you select your college? Were you recruited? And if so, what was the recruiting process like for you? >> I chose EIU because I was offered a scholarship to play softball, it was Division I and it was the perfect distance from home (not too far, not too close). I attended a softball camp at EIU early in the summer prior to my senior year, and a few months later received a scholarship offer from Southern Illinois. That same day, the EIU coach called with an offer and I accepted on the spot because I felt more comfortable with EIU's coaching staff, program and school.
What did you do to prepare yourself the summer before you went off to college for the first time? To prepare myself over the summer for my freshman year, I played enough softball to stay in shape, but not too much as to burn myself out before getting there. I also spent time with family and friends I wouldn't get to see regularly anymore, worked at a coffee shop, and enjoyed the calm before the storm!
What, if any, academic aide was available to you? (Did you have team tutors, mandatory study halls, etc). >> There were all kinds of academic resources on campus. For student-athletes only, we had the academic center with our academic advisors, tutors, mandatory study hall hours (until you surpassed a certain GPA), free printing, computers, etc. The university also provided academic services, but I never once didn't find what I needed at the student-athlete center.
What tips do you have for students regarding time management? >> Time management really stems from being self-motivated and a drive to succeed. My advice would be to always think about the consequences to not managing your time well. If at this point you don't fully understand how important your academics are to your future, then think about how your athletics will be impacted if your grades slip. "Early and often" were two words I felt always related to me successfully managing my time. Start things early and revisit often!
What advice do you have for high school students looking to play a sport in college? >> I would say, if you're on the fence, DO IT! There is no better experience I had than being a student-athlete. While it was incredibly challenging, and I had my fair share of failures along the way, it taught me more skills and lessons than any job or organization during those critical four years could have.
A huge ‘Thank You’ to Maria for her thoughtful responses! And remember, if you are a high school student athlete who has questions regarding the college prep or athletic recruiting process, do not hesitate to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org). We want to help you write your 'Student-Athlete Story'!!