The Life of a College Athlete – Injuries, Mental Health, and More

Chloe Golebiewski, Staff Writer

The student interviewed for this story chose to remain anonymous, although their story is likely familiar to many college athletes who have experienced mental health issues and struggles with juggling their sport with school.

Being a college athlete is a tough track to navigate, whether you’re on the field, in the gym, or running cross country. It’s understandable that some would struggle with the strenuous schedule and high expectations.

“It’s crazy,” said an MCLA athlete who asked to remain anonymous. “You have classes all day, every day. Then during your break, you have to go to lift in the fitness center, and then more classes, and then you have practice. When you aren’t in class, you’re basically living on the field/in the gym trying to practice your sport and gain more experience… It takes a lot. It is pretty much the same as high school sports as far as the rules go, but it is so much faster.”

Athletes put in a lot of work for their sport, and that can take a large toll on a person’s health, mental health, and performance.

“Physically, I have lost a lot of weight, both from being in the gym/on the field constantly, and from not having enough time to go to the Centennial Room to eat. I’ve had a few concussions, rolled ankles, etc.” the student said.

And as for their mental health, “It takes a serious toll to spend so much time doing this one thing. You still have to go to work, keep a social life with your friends, stay on track with your classes, not sleep through your class time, and still be able to eat after all of that. It’s very tough to juggle everything, and it’s even harder to find the right balance for yourself.”

Coaches and captains encourage school to come first, and they do want the best for you in your future career and college career as a student athlete.

“We are all going through the same thing. The coaches understand too, but sometimes they may not get the whole picture. Some coaches may be younger, but times are still different from when they were in school. All our homework is online, homework is due a lot sooner than the actual class time, and if you don’t submit your assignments in time, a lot of professors lock them,” they explained, “but then you have to go on a bus for three or four hours for a game, and you just can’t get things done in time. I feel like some professors don’t understand that there isn’t enough time in the day for everything. Obviously, you don’t want to miss practice to do homework. It’s truly a terrible feeling, but sometimes you must do it to catch up on work.”

College teams are also a great way to make friends and build connections, and that comes with a sense of trust between a group of athletes. “I have a great connection with most of the people on the team. On the court/on the field, it’s different, because everyone ‘locks in’ in a different way. I hang out with everyone outside of practice, whether that be to get dinner or do homework together.”

It can be hard to transition from a high school athlete to a college athlete, but it is a great thing if you can find that balance and put your mind to it. They tell us, “Good luck to anyone who takes their sports career to college. It is so rewarding to play a game and know that everyone puts their all into it. It comes with a lot of hard work though, and you need to be willing to put in the effort. It’s very difficult to hold up, but you can do it; we all do it. Find your balance, and definitely ask for help if you need to. Just make sure you’re doing the best thing for yourself.”