You only get one chance at first impressions. As a Division-I athlete, the first impression we get to make is day one of practice. For those of you that haven’t gotten to college yet, the freshman usually arrive a week before everyone else for freshman orientation. This is a really exciting time as it’s the first time your away from home on your own. For those that are already in college, You probably know how easy it can be to lose sight of what you’re at school for, before it even gets going.
During my freshman orientation I went out and partied for almost a week straight treating my body like crap if you start practice a week later. We had our run test that consisted of 15 different runs, I only passed 4 of the runs and was cramping up and nearly passed out when we were done. Not only were the numbers I put up terrible, but the coaches could tell that I hadn’t prepared for practice. For almost an entire month, one of the assistant coaches would stand over my shoulder during conditioning sessions essentially making my life a living hell. Looking back on this now, I wish I had taken better care of my body and made a better first impression. Your coaches make a big investment on you and are giving you a great opportunity being able to play at this level. I eventually proved myself to the coaches, but I spent almost an entire month having to work that much harder to earn their respect. You owe it to your teammates, your coaches and yourself to come in ready to go. Beyond that, you have a responsibility to balance your social life with sports and academics for four years. You will need to make sacrifices but it will pay off in the end.
Another lesson I learned right away was that being on time is crucial. You will most likely have some sort of early morning commitment as a Division-I athlete. For me, it was “Breakfast Club”. “Breakfast Club” was study hall for freshman on Tuesday and Thursdays at 7:00 am during the fall semester. That first morning I left my dorm about three minutes behind my roommates thinking I would be able to get to study hall on time no problem. I walked into study hall at 7:01 that morning and was the only person that was late. Now you might be saying what’s the big deal, you were only a minute late? That’s what I thought at least. Because I was a minute late for study hall, the entire team had to run the next morning at 6:00 am while I stood in the middle of the field and watched. You definitely don’t ever want to watch 50 of your teammates run sprints at 6:00 am all because of your mistake while you stand there watching. I bought “The Sonic Bomb” alarm clock after that morning and I haven’t slept through an alarm since, check it out here – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000OOWZUK/ref=twister_B01CXA3I6M?_encoding=UTF8&th=1
Doing the little things like showing up on time for stuff is easy. Make sure you are the first one there for practice, lift or study hall and the last one to leave. It shows that you care and your teammates and coaches take notice. I didn’t really understand why it was such a big deal at the time but as I have grown older I get it now. In order to be successful at this level, doing the little things right is crucial and this kind of stuff pays off on the field. Be disciplined and hold yourself accountable.
The most successful teams are held together by great teammates. When I came into college as a freshman, I managed to find a way to get into trouble on a weekly basis. Whether it be showing up late to morning study hall, sleeping through a morning practice or breaking a team rule, I managed to rack up a lot of punishment workouts. Looking back on all of this now, I am disappointed with myself for making the mistakes but they helped me mature and grow up, getting me to where I am today. There are a lot of things I wish I could go back and tell myself before I started college. I have come a long way over the last 5 years and have even managed to be named a captain by my teammates. Take these experiences that I have and can learn from my mistakes so you can be successful when you get to college.
Everyone wishes they could have done some stuff differently as a freshman. What are some tips you wish you could share with yourself as a freshman? Share them with us in the comments section.