Graduating Athlete Reflects on Life at Oberlin

If it’s your first — or maybe second — year of college, you might be wondering about all the dos and don’ts, tips and tricks, and ins and outs you should know about Oberlin Athletics. As you navigate your new home here in Ohio, I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned along my way as a fifth-year student-athlete at Oberlin.

The most important advice I would share is to not be afraid to take rest days and listen to your body. Only you know how you are truly feeling, and your coach should always want what is best for you. If you are getting sick, feeling an injury coming on, or mentally need a break, make it happen. A day or two off is a lot better than a few weeks of forced recovery because you overdid it.

Trust me, I understand that being a college student who gets enough sleep, gets good grades, has a decent social life, and can perform at peak athletic ability sounds like an impossible task unless you sacrifice something, but it is extremely important to take care of yourself. I know it’s hard to get enough sleep, especially when you have to wake up at the crack of dawn for practice and need to study for a test in your 8 a.m. class, but really try to aim for at least six hours of rest. Make sure you take care of your body by providing it with nutritious foods. I know Stevenson Dining Hall barely has any food by the time you’re done with practice, and that the lines seem way too long to wait in, but trust me, those are excuses that will end up hurting you more in the long run.

By now you should be able to tell the difference between pains from soreness and pains from an actual injury. Even if you feel like it’s not that big of a deal, make sure you see your athletic trainer, and at the very least get something iced, take an ice bath, and roll out. If the trainer tells you to sit out and miss practice or a game, take their advice. Competing while injured will come back to haunt you at the most inconvenient time. It’s also essential to learn how to communicate with others. Good communication is key with your professors, coaches, and teammates. If you need to get an extension on an assignment or take an exam at a later date because you’re too overwhelmed or it conflicts with your sport, it shouldn’t be a problem as long as you give notice far ahead of time. Professors are understanding of collegiate athletes and want you to succeed. They know we all have busy schedules, and will cooperate with you as long as you are responsible with your schedule.

When it comes to coaches, let them know what your goals are; they are here to support you — not only as an athlete, but as a student and an individual. Be honest with them if you have any family issues, injuries, upcoming exams, or stress. Coaches are humans and busy people too — oftentimes, we forget that. Make the effort to drop by their office and talk about anything you want. When a coach knows you better and sees your commitment beyond just practice, it can go a long way in shaping your role on the team. As I wrap up my last weeks at Oberlin, stopping by my coach’s office to talk to her about life, school, or athletics is one of the things I will miss most. I never could have imagined how big of an impact my coach would have on my life back when I was an 18-year-old deciding where to go to college. I’m so thankful to have had her as my coach and now as my friend.

As an Oberlin athlete, you are bound to have so much support around you through your coaches, teammates, and department. But it is important to know that comparison is toxic and that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Knowing yourself and what you are capable of is all you should focus on. When you focus your energy on bettering yourself as a person, student, and athlete, you will find success, so be your own biggest cheerleader.

While I know the Oberlin Athletics community can foster a great sense of belonging, it can also feel quite small and almost suffocating at times. Don’t feel like you have to hang out with your teammates or other student-athletes every waking hour. Venture outside of the Oberlin Athletics bubble. The high school stigma of cliques unfortunately still exists at college, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you have interests outside sports, I strongly encourage you to join a club or organization that centers around it. I would not be writing this article if it wasn’t for my Review family that I joined in my second year here, and I’m forever thankful I became a part of this organization. I promise you, every student-athlete has time to have a life outside of school and sports.

Lastly, have fun. You’re going to put in a lot of blood, sweat, and tears for your sport, but most importantly, remember to enjoy it. Time is precious and goes by fast. Be grateful for your experience and cherish them while you can.