As a student athlete your inbox is probably full of emails from the different professionals on campus that work with the athletic program. Instead of skipping over them, you should take a look at all of the resources we have as student athletes. Many of these people can help you improve yourself on and off the field. I have provided a list of the people on campus that you should commit to working with during your four years in order to be successful. In addition to the information below, I will be conducting in-depth interviews with different people that work within the Athletic Department they will be available for you in the near future.
1.Athletic Academic Advisor
Your athletic academic advisor is one of the first people you will meet when you get on campus. This is someone you will work very closely with during your four years. Freshman and students that have under a certain GPA are required to meet on a weekly basis with their advisor. Student athletes give them their syllabus at the beginning of the term and they will make sure you stay on top of all your assignments. As a senior, I still like to check in with my athletic academic advisor Rachel (pictured on the right) a few times during the term.
Because they work with so many student athletes, they really know the ins-and-outs of the school. When you are scheduling classes make sure you sit down with them and have them help you find the best courses and professors. They have past experience with many of the professors at your school and can help you find classes that you can be successful in. They will also help you find professors that will accommodate your travel schedule. Teams usually leave the day before away games and miss class for weekday home games. Your athletic academic advisor will help you communicate with teachers about missing exams or presentations and sometimes even getting extensions on assignments. Make sure that you are on good terms with your advisor, as you will most likely need their help on more than one occasion.
2. Strength and Conditioning
Strength and conditioning play a big role in Division-I sports. There are some college athletes that probably didn’t have to touch a weight in high school and still dominated on the field. There are very few people that can get away with this at the Division-I level. Not only will excelling in the weight room help your performance on the field, it also helps you prevent injuries. You should become very close with your strength and conditioning coaches during your college career. My strength and conditioning coach, Mike Rankin (pictured right) is extremely passionate about what he does. He challenges myself and other student athletes to be disciplined and work hard during every lift.
If you live close to campus talk to them about working out at school during winter and summer break. If you live farther away from campus, consider taking some summer classes so you can lighten your course load during the season and commit to a full year lifting program. They will be committed to creating a plan based on your sport and position to help you be a beast on the field.
3. Training staff
Many athletes fail to use the training staff aside from when they are hurt. The training room is one of the best resources we have as athletes. It is just as important for treating injuries as it is for injury prevention. Speak with your trainers about things you can do to loosen up before practice and help those bangs and bruises recover faster. When you are playing competitive sports year round, your body needs extra attention in order to recover. Developing a good relationship with your trainer is important as they will be committed to keeping you healthy and on the field.
(IPhoto Credit – Mike Tuberosa & Sideline Photo)
4. Sports Psychologist
More and more schools have hired sports psychologist to work with their athletes. As a lacrosse goalie I have found sports psychologist incredibly useful in helping me strengthen the mental aspect of my game. One of my high school coaches, Chris Buck, was a sports psychologist and I have continued to work with him for the last 7 years. He has helped me with everything from preparing for big games to learning how to approach practice everyday when competing for the starting job. Below is a video of Chris Buck giving some insight on creating your own success.
Sports psychologists have become very popular with professional athletes and spend big money to work with them. The sports Psychologist at Drexel has worked at the United States Military Academy along with professional sports teams like the Philadelphia eagles. We are very fortunate to have professionals with so much experience at our disposal, take the time to meet with your sports psychologist. You don’t want to look back on that big moment and wish you had prepared differently. Whether you are trying to figure out how to approach practice everyday so you can become a starter or want to prepare yourself for the pressure that comes with big games, they will help you get there.
Keeping a balanced diet and eating the right foods is important for athletes. With our busy schedules and the number of calories we burn everyday, it’s important we are eating enough of the right foods. This was one of the hardest parts of moving away from from home. In high school my mom parents would take care of every meal. We all experience this adjustment of having to plan out each meal on a restricted college budget. My first semester freshman year was rough as I blew through my dining plan pretty fast and I was not eating healthy enough.
By meeting with your school’s nutritionist, you can determine the number of calories you need to put in your body every day. Chances are this person knows the area pretty well and can help you figure out what you should be eating during the day but also where you can get this food. Our diet plays a big role in our performance so taking advantage of this will help you get a step on your opponent. When I changed my diet up and started eating healthier I found that I had the extra energy to help push me through my busy day.
Every Division-I school has a compliance department. You will most likely meet your teams compliance representative on during the first team meeting that takes place the first day of school. They will come and speak to the team about some of the basic rules that you need to follow and have you sign the routine paper work required by the NCAA before you can begin practice. The main responsibility of the compliance department is to monitor that all NCAA rules are being followed by coaches and student athletes student athletes so you are eligible to play. When a violation is believed to have taken place, the compliance department is required to report it to the NCAA. The NCAA has many rules in place to help keep a level playing field and keep student athletes on track to graduate. While they are here to enforce rules, you shouldn’t be scared of them, they are completely on your side and want to make sure that you are always eligible. In addition to the rules, Compliance also handles the paperwork that goes with things like scholarships and redshirting.
Jamie Lindsay, Drexel University Assistant AD for Compliance
(Image taken by Jimmy Joe Granito)
Like any of the other advisors I have talked about above, you should reach out to your compliance representative and get to know them. They are paid to keep you on the field and it is always good to build a relationship with them in case you ever need their assistance or run into a problem. The unfortunate thing about all the rules the NCAA has in place is that some of them are pretty crazy and there are extreme cases where violations take place and teams face harsh penalties like vacating wins and loss of total scholarships. Click here or here to see some instances where this stuff has actually happened.
Having access to these professionals is one of the many perks of being a Division-I athlete. There is a reason schools have them on staff and if you reach out, they will be more than willing to take the time to help you. If you are serious about being the best you can be I strongly suggest you find some time to utilize these resources.
These are just a few of the professionals that we have at our disposal. Is there someone that you have used at your school that has helped you grow as a student-athlete? If so, let me know who it was and what they did to improve your game.