“Please, get me out of here!” I screamed through the phone to my mom. Snow fluttered in the in the strong harsh winds on a winter day in January. I walked up the side street while the snow soaked through my brand new UGG boots. I was a Division I basketball player that just lost by 20 points with looming deadlines to meet, friendships I was trying to maintain and a family I was trying not to miss. To top it off, I had to wake up at 7 a.m. the next morning for another long practice.
Being a college athlete is a juggling act. School comes first. As an athlete, you must maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher to remain eligible to play. This means that you have to make sure that assignments are not only done, but done well.
Basketball came next, taking up most of my time and energy. With two to three hour practices a day, at least two games per week during the season, traveling to games that are three or sometimes six hours away, and the extra time I put in the gym working on my game, I devoted a lot of time to this sport.
But it’s not enough to just show up and go through the motions. As the captain of the team and starter for three years, I did my part to try and lead the team by always being present and focusing to set a good example. I also had to make sure I fulfilled my role as a defender by guarding some of the best players in my conference and not letting them person score. I was also a shooter, so making shots was expected of me. If I couldn’t handle doing all of these jobs well, I always feared the consequence of someone else taking my spot.
Third came dealing with making time for my friends. Talk about fighting temptation almost every day. I tried to go out to parties with friends without dealing with the consequences of not finishing all of my assignments. They felt ignored if I couldn’t hang out or if I forgot to text them back. But with constant practices and never-ending assignments for my communications classes, I often didn’t have the time or energy, no matter how much I wish I did.
And if keeping up with friends who lived on the same campus with me seemed difficult, it was nothing compared to saving time for my friends and family back in San Diego. New York to California is a lot of ground to cover. Maintaining my busy schedule made it impossible to visit more than twice a year. I tried whenever possible to stay in contact with my friends and family so they knew that I was alive and that I cared about staying in touch with them.
But I failed at times.
I dealt with homesickness a lot, especially when under a lot of pressure. Calling would make it worse for me because hearing my families voices made me miss them more. As time went on, keeping contact made me feel closer to my family and I felt better about missing home.
My teammates and I knew each other very well. Not only did we spend endless hours during the day together on the court, but we also lived together, hung out with the same friends and truly went everywhere as a squad. They started to understand who I was better than I did at times. When I felt down, they always knew how to cheer me up. They would make me laugh and talk to me about something else besides basketball. The best remedy was our late night diner trips we took together laughing and enjoying each other’s company.
I often didn’t think I could do it. I wanted to run away from it all and go back home to my family. But my strong support-system of family, friends and teammates eased my mind. They helped me through times where I wouldn’t want to speak to anyone and just wanted to run away to a tropical island.
That day I spent walking through the snow was one of my toughest days. I truly wasn’t sure if I could handle all of the pressure. But after spending hours on the phone with my mom, who always reassures me of my strength, I returned to my apartment to my teammates who were always there for me. I was never in a dark place for too long. Maintaining so many responsibilities in college was possible for me because of all of the people in my life. They supported me at all times and made me the strong women I am today.