As a new school year begins, NU sports become a major commitment for all student athletes. Freshman Dakota Adams, Sophomore Christina Gleb, and Senior Sarah Stoker have to schedule their time for school and sports carefully, like any NU athlete, but they love being able to be a part of the team.
Talon: How does the college process affect you as an athlete?
Adams: College is a lot more strenuous on me than high school ever was. I have learned that I need to make sure to use all of my extra time wisely. It also has helped me truly appreciate my sport better because it gives me time to focus solely on something I love without worrying about other stuff.
Gleb: It really comes down to how you manage your time. When we travel and miss school, we have to use our free time before and after games to study and do homework.
Stoker: Being an athlete and a college student has definitely taught me a lot about time management and organization. You need to make sure that you know when everything is due and how you need to manage your time to get it done. I also have learned so much about focusing on one task at a time and mentally being present wherever I may be. When it is practice or game time, everything that has happened outside the court needs to disappear and for those few hours, volleyball is the sole focus.
Talon: How do you play differently as a senior than you did as a freshman?
Stoker: As a result of the great coaches, teammates, and just the higher level of play, I have improved so much skill-wise from freshman to senior year. My confidence as a player and a person has increased. When you have a team that supports you and believes in you wholeheartedly, it has a dramatic impact on how you play and the confidence you have. Coming in as a freshman is scary and you don’t want to be the one to make a mistake, but you do…a lot. As you gain more experience, you realize that it is a game of mistakes, and without risk, there is no reward. Playing with a supportive team who plays to bring Christ glory has brought a depth and a joy to playing that I never would have imagined coming in as a freshman.
Talon: How do you juggle a sport with all of your studies when you are in the middle of your college career?
Adams: It is difficult, but I have just learned to use my time wisely. Away games are hard since most of our trips are so far away, but it is nice because our coaches always give us time to study at the hotel.
Gleb: My free time has to be dedicated to my school work first. My professors have so far been really understanding of my schedule and do their best to let us know what we will miss if we are traveling for volleyball matches.
Stoker: It can at many times be a challenge, but knowing the limited time I have to study and get my homework done actually forces me to be much more disciplined during the season. When you know that your time is limited and school and volleyball must take priority, you just cut other activities to make it work. I also utilize the long van rides to do lots and lots of homework. My philosophy is that if I’m stuck in the van for nine hours anyway, I might as well study because I couldn’t be doing anything else if I wanted to.
Talon: How do you make the transition from the high school sports dynamic to the college atmosphere as a freshman?
Adams: The transition is way different. I am really glad I had the time during pre-season to adjust to living on my own and just getting to know the rest of my team without the stress of school. So far I feel like I have adjusted pretty well to everything, and I am so happy with my decision to come be a student athlete at NU.
Gleb: The sport is so much different going from high school to college. It is played at a much faster pace, and overall, the skill level of the opponent is immensely higher. Last year before coming to NU, as well as this summer, we had workout plans and open gyms throughout to prepare us for pre-season and season.
Stoker: The level of play, competition, and time commitment significantly increase. I think that if you come in with an open mind and are willing to work hard every day, it makes the transition easier. You may have to change a lot of things you have been doing possibly your whole career to make things work. Any transition is hard, but knowing in the end all the hard work will pay off makes it worth it. Also, when it does get tough and you’re frustrated, it is important to remember you have been blessed with the opportunity to play the sport you love at a high level, and not a lot of people get that chance.
Written by Erikas Franke