The adjustment for non-athletes is difficult enough with new independence and responsibilities, a new city (for some, a new country), new friends, and new academic formats.
But student-athletes also have to adjust to a new level of competition, new coaches, new facilities, and an entirely new group of teammates. But new teammates can be a blessing.
“I am originally from Southern California so I am basically all the way across the country from my family, and [while the] college transition is already difficult, the distance from home did not help much,” sophomore softball infielder Alizah Ayon said. “However, the girls on the team, as well as the coaches, really made Rochester my second home and gave me a second family.”
Incoming first-year golfer Brendan Frain is looking forward to the team camaraderie. He said that at the collegiate level, golf is both a fall and a spring sport, giving more time with the team than in high school. “This gives me a great opportunity to make some of my best friends, and also I’ll be able to look up to the upperclassmen on the team and have them help me with whatever I need, which is comforting coming into my freshman year,” Frain said.
Coaches also help first-year athletes adapt to college ball. In fact, for some athletes like Frain, their coach is part of the reason they chose to attend UR. Coaches work to ease the transition, and the recruiting process ensures that players and coaches are compatible.
Of course, one of the largest adjustments is the added competition and rigor of playing in Division III.
“In high school, almost anyone can play sports; in college, only a select few people are athletes,” Frain said. “Only the top players will become college athletes, and that’s why being successful takes endless hours of preparation and practice.”
Playing at the next level is also difficult because the bigger stage brings more pressure and higher expectations, all while handling a more difficult schedule and course load.
Time management is a key skill of any student-athlete, and is especially important to refine. “My advice to incoming first-year athletes would be to work hard and be a team player, [but] also remember you are a student athlete: student coming first and athlete second,” Ayon said.
For incoming first-years like Frain, expectations are high. “I think that we have the talent to do great things and win some tournaments this year,” Frain said. “Our goal is to be playing our best golf in May, and hopefully go down to Florida and perform in the national championship.”
Even though there are many challenges in adapting to being a collegiate student-athlete, athletes still cherish it as a rewarding and fun experience.