So much more to being a student athlete

Freshman year with Jason Woolums (fellow freshman golfer)
Freshman year with Jason Woolums (fellow freshman golfer)

When you look around Hanover’s campus, you see a plethora of students wearing t-shirts, sweatshirts, polos, etc., with the Hanover Panther logo designed on the clothing with a name of a sport inscribed underneath.

A normal bystander may walk by and comment on the clothing with remarks such as, “Did you guys win?” “How did you play?” or even “Cannot wait to see you play sometime.”

On the outside, athletes can be viewed through terms with negative connotations such as jocks or just sport-loving individuals who do not care about anything except their sport. However at Hanover, there is much more to being a student athlete.

As a junior at the college, I have been a member of the men’s golf team for three years now. After playing in high school, I decided that I would be able to take my talents to the next level and play at the collegiate level.

I went into college nervous, but excited, at the fact that I would be an NCAA athlete and be able to tell my friends that I play a collegiate sport. On my first day at Hanover, I vowed to dedicate most of my time to the sport I love. But as the fall season went on, I started to notice changes and improvements in myself, not only on the course, but also in two other major aspects of my life.

Being an athlete, not just a golfer, requires an ample amount of discipline on an individual. Personally, I saw this discipline not only resonate on the golf course, but in the classroom as well. Now, we all have heard the old cliché that a student athlete is first a student and then an athlete, which warrants much truth within itself.

However, I never realized how much the two would intertwine from a discipline standpoint and exhibit a growth in maturation on a daily basis. Unlike in high school, being a college athlete is much more of an independent process. I am personally reliable to drive myself to the golf course everyday and work on my game. No one is there to hold my hand and force me to go to practice. It is either go to practice and improve your game, or you do not play in the tournament in the upcoming week.

This notion of self-reliance is one I had to force myself to be accustomed to, but once I was able to do so, I could apply this notion in the classroom as well. In the classroom, a professor is even less likely to hold your hand than a coach would. They are there to teach you the material and then move on to another topic. This can be a shocking wake-up call to some, but as a student athlete, you are given an advantage because you have already practiced this idea of self-reliance.

As a student athlete, you are not alone as you venture through your college years. Your teammates become family. You form a bond with these individuals unlike any bonds that you may have formed in high school.

During my freshman year, I would have teammates ask me how many times I had been to the library that week, and some would even ask to see my homework just to make sure I was getting the job done and done correctly. The men on the golf team are full of class and support and I have noticed the same with other sports teams as well.

I’ve seen my roommates, who are cross country runners, track athletes and soccer players, take the freshmen under their wing to make sure they do not make the same mistakes that many freshmen make during their first year.

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