The Life of a Student-Athlete by Elizabeth Stephens

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I do what I have to do, because I love the sport and I love the school. I make it work.

College Athletes. They have the best life. Everyday is Nike Christmas, their teachers bend over backwards for them, they have a ton of friends, and receive privileges one could only dream of. When asked to think about student athletes in college, many will come to this conclusion. However, I can tell you this image is far from the truth. Here is what it is like to really be a student athlete in college…

There is no ‘off season’. From the moment I step foot onto campus, everything I do revolves around tennis. Many times people assume that my season is only in the winter or spring, and that my season only lasts 2-4 months. It doesn’t. It lasts all year. In the fall we play tournaments and work to figure out our lineup. The minute winter quarter starts we are playing nonconference matches, and when spring rolls around we go straight into conference. And when we don’t have matches, we are training so that we can be our best when ‘season’ comes. We are eating healthy, working out, and practicing to maintain everything we have worked so hard to achieve.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 2.46.36 PM.pngYou have long stressful days. The day starts with 8 a.m. weights and then straight to 10 a.m. office hours and class at 12 p.m. And we wouldn’t even think to skip class because then we wouldn’t be able to practice or compete. So class is always attended, and after class there is a 20-minute window to scarf down a sandwich or a granola bar and then head to physical therapy, followed by a 2-3 hour practice. After practice there is the long sprint across campus to make it to my 6:30 p.m. class. After class ends at 9:15 p.m. and I am physically and mentally exhausted, I make the trek back home. But it isn’t so I can curl up in my bed and watch Netflix or sit in the living room and gossip with my friends, it is straight up to my room to start the hours of homework I have before finally going to sleep, and waking up in a few short hours to do it all over again.

There is no break. I had two days off for my spring break. These two days were not graciously given by our coach, but they were instead days required off by the NCAA. There is no such thing as days off. If we aren’t on the court we are in the gym, and if we aren’t in the gym we are in the training room. It’s all tennis, all the time.

There are no special privileges. Attendance at every class is required and excellence in each class is expected. Missing practice or team events is not an option and don’t even think about missing workouts. Sure we get priority registration but it’s only to ensure I am at every single practice and weights.

It is hard work. The endless hours on the court and in the gym on top of class and office hours make college that much harder. There is no room for failure. You show up late to practice the entire team has to run. You make a mistake, well, you better start running. And, yes, school comes first but that is no excuse to slack off at practice.

So that’s what it is really like to be a college athlete. It’s hard work. It’s time and dedication that is sometimes hard to find at the end of a long day. But we do it because the feeling of representing your school is something unlike anything else. It is a sense of pride and accomplishment. So to the people who think student-athletes are taking the easy way out, I beg to differ.

Playing tennis for Santa Clara was the best decision I ever made. The hard work and stress seem so little when I am able to represent my school doing something I love.

Dani Silva and Madison Clarke reflect on their favorite moment from the 2015-2016 tennis season.

By Elizabeth Stephens

Photos via SantaClaraBroncos.com
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College Chronicles: Jonathan Pak

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Name: Jonathan Pak

Year: Sophomore

Major: Biochem

Hometown: Dublin, California

 

Biggest surprise or thing you didn’t expect about college?

I thought it would be a breeze, and I could be lazy and do whatever I wanted and have fun. Obviously,  when you’re living off campus away from home, there’s more freedom. I thought it would be something like high school, so I know during the first quarter I fooled around a lot and did not use my time well. I did get my work done, but I knew that I would have to start stepping it up.

Name your biggest disappointment or thing you like least about college.

One would be registration because it is just painful to see all of your classes fill up. A second would be housing because our housing system sucks. The emails they send us, they mess up with the times and the whole process is pretty bad.

What was a specific experience in college that stands out?

That one time when I boarded to Dennys with my friends at five.

Would you do anything differently?

I would change my major. My major right now is biochem and I would change it definitely not to Engineering but probably to something in Arts and Sciences that is more artsy. Something like philosophy because I’ve really liked all my philosophy classes. They really pick your brain and you learn a lot and they’re very interesting instead of biochem where everything is very straightforward and there isn’t much variety.

Interviewed By: Tyler Marchi and Steven Trager

 

College Chronicles: Kaylee Hansen

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Name: Kaylee Hansen

Year: Junior

Major: Business Management

Hometown: Sammamish, Wash.

 

What surprised you about college?

How friendly everyone was. It was just really refreshing to see how the whole student body was very friendly. Random people having conversations with you, opening up the door for you, just being really positive about everything. Just the whole vibe and atmosphere is very welcoming. That surprised me in a positive way.

Name your biggest disappointment or the thing you like least about college.

The tater tots are sometimes too squishy. When they’re not baked to a golden crisp.

What was a specific experience in college that stands out?

Living in Sanfilippo. I’ll have been there all four years, as a resident, CF, and ARD. Just being able to see the residents throughout the years build a family within the community. I met so many remarkable people through the Flip over my time here.

Would you do anything differently?

I would say getting off campus more my freshman year and really exploring the area and all it has to offer.

Interview by Riley O’Connell

College Chronicles: Justin Azzarito

JustinName:             Justin Azzarito

Year:               Sophomore

Major:            Finance and Economics

Hometown:   Sacramento, California

 

What surprised you about college?

I didn’t expect the prices in Benson to be so high. Although I almost did expect that. I didn’t expect it to be so hard walk to the third floor of Lucas every day, but it’s very hard.

Name your biggest disappointment or the thing you like least about college.

I feel like there’s not a lot to do if you’re not in a fraternity, like social events to meet people outside of dorm events. There needs to be more events campus wide to meet people. There needs to be more nights like Bronco Nights.

What was a specific experience in college that stands out?

Over spring break my professor emailed me saying that I had the highest grade in the class and was very participative, so it was very nice to be recognized for my work.

Would you do anything differently? 

I’d be more outgoing the first few months of freshman year because after that people get in their little groups and don’t talk to other people.

Interview by Tyler Marchi and Steven Trager

 

College Chronicles: Troy Lopez

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Name:             Troy Lopez

Year:               Senior

Major:            Civil Engineering

Hometown:   Belize City, Belize

 

What surprised you about college?

The culture of not being around parents and just being around friends all the time. Being free to do whatever you want takes getting used to, but I like it. It’s better.

Name your biggest disappointment or the thing you like least about college.

The workload. When I graduated high school, it was a ton of work so when I got to college I expected the workload, not be to be easier, but to be less. Less work, but harder work.

What was a specific experience in college that stands out?

Learning how to play beer die. It introduced me to American college culture. There’s a lot of drinking games.

Would you do anything differently? 

When I first came here, I would probably have chosen friends who partied a little bit less. When I was in Belize, I was really someone who was into hitting the books and studying hard. It’s good to get a break, but I like having more focus on school work.

Interview by Perla Luna

My Club by Julia Sullivan

 

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Women’s club team celebrating a hard fought victory against Cal Poly.

Taylor Ferdinandsen believes playing club volleyball at Santa Clara is the best decision she has made in college.

“It’s quick, it’s fast, you can make mistakes and then get over it,” the senior said. “It’s a different pace than everyday college life.”

Santa Clara University offers many sports for both men and women at the club level, including volleyball, lacrosse, and rugby. These teams practice on average three times a week and play other colleges competitively. It could be described as falling somewhere in between  Division 1 level and intramural. They offer the chance to be competitive, be part of a team, and stay in shape without the commitment of playing D1.

While sitting down with Taylor, she explains how by her senior year in high school she was simply burnt out from playing volleyball. She just wanted to go college without the pressures and stress of playing volleyball as a career. She admits that it would be hard to let go of volleyball completely. College club volleyball was her golden ticket. “Even when I didn’t have the best years or good coaches, I was still so happy I did it,” she said.

Taylor smiles as she thinks back on her decision to sign up at the fall activity fair her freshman year. Just watching Taylor brighten up when talking about her experiences it is clear how much love and passion she has for the sport.

Taylor admits there are some downsides of not being  Division 1. While club sports do receive funds from the university, they are minimal and do not cover the basics needs for each sport. In addition to the lack of support by the university, there is not much advertisement done by the university of club sports. The only fans attracted to games are drawn in by players themselves through social media usually.

“Wo Knows about us?” she asked? “No one. Have they ever advertised for us? No. Do they give us any money? No.” 

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Women’s team at 2016 Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky

The only advertising for games is done by the players themselves and most of the funding comes from player dues and fundraising done by the players.  While club sports do not bring money in for Santa Clara University like division one sports do, they still are a positive representation of SCU. Many clubs on campus create a budget for their needs that the school funds, and club sports should have the opportunity to do the same. If SCU wants to continue to have a positive representation of club sports more funding from the school will be needed.

While not every aspect of playing a club sport is perfect, it gives a talented, competitive athlete like Taylor a chance to keep playing the sport they love. For Taylor, one of the greatest things to come from being on a team is the camaraderie. In her opinion, no one can just join any club and have that instant bond over something so passionate as playing a sport.

“When you put a bunch of women together to work towards a common goal there you wouldn’t really expect it to work,” she said. “And then you have a team sport where everyone is so different. I’m different than my teammates but it doesn’t matter we can all work towards the same goal and get along and make it work.”

One thing, as trivial as it might seem, that creates an instant bond for volleyball players is the ability to scream. “Where else in your life do you get to yell? Tell me about the most stoked you have ever been in your life and say it wasn’t during sports,” Taylor says.

By Julia Sullivan