Entering a new situation and thriving is extremely difficult, but being a freshman student-athlete is even more challenging.
New college athletes are left to balance tougher classes and higher levels of competition in their sport - all while figuring out their new surroundings and building relationships with new teammates and coaches.
If you are preparing to play college athletics you were most likely the go-to athlete at your high school. Life came pretty easy, and yeah, you were probably the king (or queen) of your school.
Well, as I’m sure you’ve heard, you are about to go back to the bottom of the totem pole. But don’t worry, because, after 5 years of playing college baseball and seeing five separate freshmen classes, I am here to tell you the dos and don’ts of being a freshman athlete.
Do more than the bare minimum.
Showing up is hard in itself. Early morning lifts, practice, and late nights of studying are draining but try and make the effort to do a little more when you can.
Aside from helping you in your college career, it builds trust with your older teammates, trust that comes in handy during the season.
Be a good teammate.
In reality, you probably won’t live up to your expectations on the field or court just yet. You can and will do well, but it will be noticeably harder than it was in the past. Do not let that dissuade you from being there for your teammates.
From personal experience, you learn much more about a person and yourself when you are struggling than you do when everything is going well.
Help your fellow freshmen get to lifts, and practices, and make the right decisions. As hard as it may be for you, it will be just as hard for your classmates. You are in this together!
It is tempting to try and fit in as one of the youngest people on the team and, while it has some benefits, your older teammates want to get to know the real you.
You can add something to the team culture by being who you were and being willing to grow as your experiences grow. But you cannot grow as a person yourself unless you put the real you out there.
By fitting in completely you are doing yourself a disservice along with your teammates. They can learn something from you too.
Don’t harp on your high school successes.
I was especially guilty of this one.
High school is really fun and comparatively easy. My high school team was one of the best in the nation and I let everyone on my team know about it. This did not make me a lot of friends as I became known for living in high school.
As great as it was, my harping on the past did not allow me to enjoy my first year of college as well as I could have.
Don’t try to be the "Big Man on Campus".
Confidence is undoubtedly important as a college athlete. You deserve to be confident, after all ,you’ve made it into collegiate athletics!
Everyone knows you were probably successful everywhere you’ve been, there’s no reason to try and prove yourself based on what you’ve done. Your time will come, be patient and don’t try and hijack the spotlight.
There are going to be ups and downs, try and take them for what they are; moments. You are about to meet some of the closest friends you will have and if it takes time for you to be comfortable that is okay.
Whatever your expectation is for college and freshman year of college in particular, your experience is likely to be completely different and that is okay. You have the opportunity to learn so many things and you get to play the sport you grew up playing and love.