Freshman setter Erin Slinde takes over the Match Point Blog this semester to give us an inside look at what it's like to be a member of the volleyball team. In her first post, she talks about the stereotypes that come with being a student-athlete.
Student-athletes have many stereotypes.
The common one is that we are all no-brained, big-headed bodies of pure muscle that were somehow born with the ability to be at least decent at that sport we play.
This, however, is not exactly the case.
As hard as it is being a student-athlete and having to take on all the responsibilities of being one, such as the demanding schedule and workload of our sport on top of being a college student, this doesn't mean we are only there to play our sport.
I will admit, there are some student-athletes that may be a little smarter than others. We aren't all brainiacs. Some may simply use college as a doorway to play professionally. That's just the reality of it for some people. But unfortunately, not all of us have the option or the desire to play at the next level.
Many athletes depend on getting an athletic scholarship to help pay for their education to help find a job after they graduate. Yes, this means that one day, we will be regular people too.
So no, we are not all no-brained idiots that can only understand our sport.
Some athletes may seem like gods and goddess on college campuses with their pictures posted all over campus, but I promise, no matter who it is, we are just regular people doing irregular things. We are just like you for the most part, at college to get an education and excel at learning.
With our faces on all those billboards and posters, we take on the responsibility of being role models in our community. Everyone's eyes are on us. We make one bad move, one mistake, one bad decision, and our reputation on campus goes down the toilet. We are put on a pedestal for everyone to see. We are the faces of our school.
This may make us come off like we have big egos and think we deserve special treatment because we are athletes, but we don't. All we expect is the same respect as any other student.
A lot of people believe that every athlete has this magical gene that God gave to them to be good at sports. This is completely false.
Don't get me wrong - I can say that I am blessed to be where I am today, but not because of my genes or luck. I am where I am today because I worked my butt off to get here.
I can see that you may argue that your height or athletic ability may affect the level you can play at, but most of the time, it all depends on how bad you want it and how much you are willing to sacrifice to get to where you want to be.
You can be given the best genes in the world, but if you don't care to use them or work hard, then they are worthless.
If there is anyone on a college campus that makes great sacrifices, it would be student- athletes.
Not only can our sports dominate our lives, but we are constantly being watched and judged all the time. Our sport always comes first. Even though the NCAA tells us that we are students before we are athletes, it can be hard to remember. Everything I do is for my sport: what I eat, what time I go to bed, who I hang out with... it's all for my sport. My sport runs my life.
As much as I would love to get the full college experience, my sport limits me. I spend weekends off hosting recruits, volunteering at fundraisers and finishing my school work just in time while trying to put as much as I can to making it my very best. My free time is limited, and I am limited to what I am able to do with that free time.
Many of you might agree that you know a student athlete when you see one.
Is it the confidence they have when they walk in the classroom? Is it the baggy sweatpants they put on after their workout walking to class? Is it the amount of food they eat to stay fueled for their four hour practice? Is it the bags under their eyes from being up at 6 a.m. for workouts? Is it their sweaty hair put up in a bun while the other girls in class sit around them with their hair fresh and curled?
I ask you to not just think of us as just athletes, because we are so much more than what we may seem.