Benefits of Being a Student Athlete in College
For most high school athletes, the idea of playing a college sport is an exciting prospect. College athletics open doors for athletes to take their level of play to the next level and push themselves to reach new physical limits. Not to mention, being a student athlete means you get opportunities to travel, an outlet to stay in shape, and camaraderie with teammates that cannot be rivaled. Many former college athletes relive their “glory days” on the court, field, or track time and time again – long after they can run the five-minute mile.
But what many Grace College student athletes do not anticipate, is that their athletic career in college will shape other areas of their life. There are countless invaluable lessons our athletes learn through their sports that help them become better students, better employees, and better followers of Christ.
Here are a few of the benefits of being a student athlete in college that we hear our Lancers talk about time and time again.
Learning to do all things for the glory of God.
As a student athlete, it’s easy to get caught up in the game itself: whether it’s winning, losing, beating records, or playing poorly. But at Grace, your coaches and teammates will keep you focused on what matters most. Don’t get it confused – we are fiercely competitive – but we recognize that even athletics are a platform to honor God.
Many of our teams take mission trips together to leverage sport as a means to share the gospel around the world. And when COVID-19 first hit, our men’s soccer team organized a week-long marathon to raise $20,000 for COVID relief funds as a demonstration of their faith. Our coaches facilitate service opportunities off the pitch. And on the pitch, they know that a win in the books is worthless if Christ was not glorified. In many ways, the Lancer coaching staff serve as spiritual mentors first and coaches second.
“Grace volleyball was so much more than just a team to me,” said former setter for the women’s volleyball team, Alexa Hill. “I learned how to perfect my craft and how to be a leader for Christ. I wouldn’t trade my four years playing at Grace for anything.”
Leaving your excuses at the door.
Being a student athlete helps you own what is yours to own. In high school athletics, there is often a teammate or two that brings the whole group down, and if you’re not careful, they can get the blame even when the blame is yours to own. In college athletics, where the level of play is more intense, nobody wants to hear your excuses on the court. And truth be told, no one wants to hear them off the court either!
Just because your sport requires hours from you every single day, it doesn’t excuse you from other responsibilities, like academics, relationships, and church. When your days as a student include classes, practice, weight lifting, homework, and a job, you must prioritize your time. Being a student athlete teaches you the importance of having and following a strict schedule in order to keep yourself on track.
Taking ownership of the many responsibilities that come with being a student athlete and learning to prioritize your time are both essential skills that will prepare you for everything that comes after college.
“A lot of people want to see the world around them change, but they never do anything to create that change,” said Martin Schiele, a former basketball player and runner for men’s track and field. “Whether I’m on the court or track or in the classroom, I want people to know me for my faith.”
Putting the team first.
The vast majority of careers after college will require you to work within a team of some sort to achieve a common goal. Being a college student athlete helps teach you that if you want to be successful, you have to know what it means to be a part of a team. College athletics will help you learn to enjoy the success of others, be willing to sacrifice to better the team, and display the kind of passion that motivates those around you. Regardless of where you go in life, being a good teammate will serve you well.
“My teammates are my sisters,” says Vironnica Drake, the all-time leading scorer for the women’s basketball team. “I just love ‘em. Serving my team and school has been the biggest platform of my life.”
Shooting for the highest standards.
Last but not least, student athletes in college are trained to set a high bar for themselves. They don’t settle for “good enough.” They set goals to claim conference titles. They intend to win national championships. They aim for success.
Many of our teams start their seasons with a team retreat to build team cohesion, enjoy each other’s company, and recover from the worst couple weeks of the season (preseason conditioning). Many of these retreats include a goal-setting team meeting where they set lofty goals that will push them to reach their full potential. Players leave the meeting with the same goals in mind, and they lay out what needs to be done in order to achieve these high standards.
Being a student athlete at Grace is about setting high standards, working harder than you ever have before, and executing to the best of your ability.
“Transferring from LSU to Grace was a lot different than I thought it would be,” said Alexis Larimore, a forward for the women’s soccer team. “These girls can play.”
The life of a student-athlete is challenging, but the benefits of being a student-athlete are well-worth it. College athletics help develop teenagers into responsible young adults who are prepared to make an impact in the world around them for Christ.
Does Grace have your sport? Find out here!