Stressed on “three”, ready! One, two, three…STRESSED! Okay, smart girls, I know many of you out there are student-athletes. Whether at the high school or collegiate level, balancing both is a struggle for nearly all of us. With finals and the holidays just around the corner, our stress is at an all time high. For most students, holiday breaks symbolize peace, quiet, family time, and shopping. But for you, the words “break games”, “two-a-days”, and “tournaments” are most likely starting to swirl through your mind already! Although your coach may seem out of touch with your needs (and your mental stability), let me assure you that he or she is not. They most likely have hectic family plans and goofy traditions that will be sadly missed this year as well. You are not alone, and that is important to remember.
It is a fact of life that overwhelming stress will hinder your performance, so remaining calm this upcoming, or recently ending, athletic season is extremely important. Despite the practice and scrimmage overload, obtaining more than enough sleep every night should be at the forefront of your mind. This should be coupled with –you guessed it! – eating properly everyday. Limited time in your schedule might make cooking a nutritious meal difficult, so hitting a local juice bar or wrap joint may be your best route for on-the-go snacking! Never, and I mean never, forget the importance of protein in your diet. As an athlete, you place high demands and expectations on your muscle’s performance. Simply eating “light, green, and leafy” is not enough to refuel.
Your status as a student-athlete comes with high standards, both mentally and physically. Girls, it is important to keep in mind that you are in school first as a student, NOT an athlete. Although you may have practice four times a week, lifting twice, and games over the weekend, your grades should always come first. Here are some quick tips I’ve picked up over the last five semesters as a Fordham cheerleader:
1. Always complete readings the day they are assigned; they tend to pile up quickly.
2. Write papers over the course of one whole week, minimum! Writing only 2-3 pages per day is much easier than packing a 10-page paper in the night before it’s due.
3. Bring study materials with you during team travels to away games, tournaments, etc.
4. Keep a frequently updated day planner/calendar so you can prioritize team events and school assignments long in advance, and last but not least…
5. Utilize your school’s tutors and academic resources at the first sign of difficulty with course material. Do not hesitate to contact your teachers/professors with any questions or concerns, especially when it comes to upcoming classes you might have to miss for the big game.
No amount of advice will put your mind fully at ease, but that’s what holiday cookies are for, right? After all of the rushing around and frenzied behavior this upcoming holiday season, remember to spend quality time with your family any chance you can. Trust me, this break will fly by. And if you aren’t able to make it home for the celebration, or find yourself left out of that kooky Christmas sweater tradition your mother makes you do every year, just keep in mind all of the wonderful memories you’ll make with your teammates. You share a bond that only other student-athletes and annual New-Year’s-Eve-party-missers can ever understand!