Duality of “Student-Athlete”

Student-athlete: a term that has set the tone for my college experience thus far. This defining term sounds self-explanatory, but this phrase holds more weight regarding the larger context of managing coursework, fostering and building relationships, and forming lifelong memories that define college life.

Students are more than taking notes in lectures, studying for their next exam, and crossing off that assignment on their never-ending homework list. College is a chance to explore your interests, step outside your comfort zone, and reinvent yourself as you grow into adulthood. It is easier said than done, especially when there is a looming deadline over your head, on top of everything else outside the classroom. 

Post-practice views at 8 am.

I’ve been searching for the sweet spot of balancing school life with activities for as long as I can remember. Like many of my peers, there was always a sports practice, music lesson, or tutoring session to attend, creating a well-rounded perspective on all activities. Starting in middle school and to this day as a college student, sports practices consumed my after-school time. These sports, ranging from swimming, soccer, softball, lacrosse, tennis, and track to finally, rowing, became my passion and my teacher. The countless hours traveling to races, working on improving my performance during practice, and catching up in the locker rooms have taught me more than I could have ever learned about my relationships with myself, my teammates, my time, and more.

Stepping into the role of a college student-athlete was natural and unnatural in all aspects. As a student, there was a strict schedule I knew how to follow: going to class, doing homework, and learning new material. As an athlete, there was a similar strict schedule I knew how to follow: going to practice, setting aside time for recovery, and fueling to do it all over again. Combining the two in newfound ways with the freedom of being in college was something I was not used to. Not knowing when or what to sacrifice in my already growing schedule became an odious task. There was always difficulty in compromising, a fear that I would give up performing to the best of my ability in one aspect of my college career for another. There were times when I did not know whether I should take the extra hour of sleep and go to bed early to wake up for my 6 am practice or take the extra hour to study for my exam the next day. These are compromises that I still struggle to make, yet it has become easier with time and practice, learning when to stay focused and disciplined for a given time and when to relax and experience the true meaning of college life in all its various reflections. 

Being a student-athlete has given me a different perspective on college life that I did not foresee. Even with all the extracurricular activities growing up, stepping into the role of a full-time student and a full-time athlete seemed daunting. But I would not trade this experience for any other, just as there should be no such thing as trading one identity for another. There is room for all versions of yourself, your passions, and your talents that make you who you are. College is a time to explore these opportunities to your liking, and through some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way, I hope it becomes clear that there is a way to achieve balance and lead with conviction and passion.

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By Lecia Sun

Lecia is a student at Tufts University studying Classics and World Literature. When she is not reading, she can be found attempting the New York Times Games, trying out a new creative hobby, and dreaming about her next great bake. 

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