One thing a recruiter never tells you about is how little free time you have as a college athlete. Every day you have to be ready or prepare to see your priorities fall out of order. Finding the balance between your sport, friends, school, and hobbies is the key to a successful career.
Believe it or not, my very first memory regarding soccer was one where the last thing I wanted to do was step on the field. I was five years old and, and as for trying new things at such an age, I wasn’t too thrilled. Eventually, my mom, who had a shoulder splint on from a recent injury, decided to rally me up and go onto the field with me. Being the momma’s boy I was, all the initial worry began to fade until I got comfortable enough to tell her to get off the field (because she was ‘slowing me down’). If it wasn’t for that instance, odds are that I could be playing a different sport than soccer.
It actually wasn’t until late in my Junior year that I started to think of playing in College. I knew I was capable, but I never really took action. I had all the resources I needed, but all my friends were getting grabbed by coaches early in high school so I assumed that’d happen to me because I was just as good.
I was wrong about that.
Since my parents weren’t very insightful on how to contact coaches or anything, I contacted my cousin who had signed to play at TCU the previous year. Over the summer before senior year, my Aunt, Uncle, and cousin had taken me through the recruitment crash course. I sent approximately 2,000 emails to coaches across the nation regarding my interest and my inquiring of when they had camps that I could show my skills at. Since it was so late for a senior in high school to be recruited, especially to the schools with the repertoire I was looking at, my chances were slim.
This was how I got my chance at Cal Poly SLO. I emailed the head coach at the time who invited me to an ID Camp. It was a three-day camp in front of all of the staff and an opportunity to prove I was capable of playing at the Division I level. On the final day, as I was saying my goodbye’s to the coaching staff, the head coach had pulled me over to tell me he wanted to see me play again. After a number of weeks, he sent his assistant coach to see me at a clinic in my hometown.
I ended up playing really well and was hopeful that I would get a call from the head coach in the near future. Eventually, I did. I was going to college.
College is a reality check. You may have been the smartest in your class, and now you’re average. You may have gotten a 4.0, and now you’re getting a 3.0. You may have been the best at sports, and now there are hundreds just like you. Nonetheless, it’s full of opportunity and freedom. Aside from soccer, I was meeting so many new faces, learning their stories, delving into new hobbies, reviving old ones, and so on so forth.
One hobby of mine that started to pick up speed is rap music. Since freshman year in high school, I would write poetry over instrumentals and freestyle with friends during break time, but it wasn’t until sophomore year in college that I started to record songs, thanks to a little push in the back from some roommates who believed in my talent.
I began making more songs and became more vocal about who I was at the same time. Since college soccer is so competitive and I am always busy with school, it’s a nice mental break resorting to rap music when there is free time.
I usually find time to write music if I finish homework at a decent hour. Most nights I’ll be listening to rap beats off of YouTube and writing a few lines here and there. Eventually, if I feel a strong connection to a beat and like the few lines I’ve written, then I will give it my undivided attention.
Everyone has a hobby or activity that provides him or her an escape from the stressors of life, and though I’d like to play soccer 24/7, it’s not possible without putting my body in jeopardy. Therefore, rap has been one of the greatest influences on keeping me balanced in my college career.
This brings me to the meaning of BALANCE. One of the most understated lessons in college is balance, especially when you’re a student-athlete. An average day would consist of:
- Waking up at 6:30 am (eat, get pre-training taping/etc)
- Training from 8-10am
- Attending class from 12-6pm
- Studying from 7-10pm
This is the average day and more often than not, one of my main priorities, whether it be school or soccer, necessitates that I put more time into one over the other. Also, when am I going to find time to eat? What if I forget to print something and need to rush to the library for one of my classes, and am unable to do something I’d planned to do at that time?
Some weeks during our season I won’t make it to a single class because of a road trip. If I’m taking 16 units a quarter then I better be proactively seeking help from teachers and classmates in keeping me up to date. Otherwise, I could lose close to 16 hours of information a week.
So, when do you hang out with friends? Well, granted that you are now behind in all your classes, you’ll probably want to spend the weekend studying, so pick friends who are “studious”. I’m not saying there isn’t time to have fun, but it’s part of what you signed up for being a student-athlete and one of the main reasons why we get priority registration (that everyone hates us for). Sacrifices will need to be made if you plan to excel in both athletics and academics. It’s hard enough to excel in one, so understanding this beforehand will eliminate some surprises.
I currently have one more year in SLO. Finally having an injury-free season has enabled me to gain a lot of what I lost during prior injuries back. I’m already working hard preparing for next year, so I can make next fall my best and will lead me to play at the next level. With an elite coaching staff preparing me for the next level, I can’t wait to see my next chapter of either playing abroad or in the MLS.
Brett Foreman | Contributor