It’s been a week of school, and getting back into a strict routine has been unexpectedly enjoyable. I find it ironic that something typically unexciting and miserable, has greeted me with content and excitement. There’s something appealing about stability and structure, in an otherwise “unstable” and random world. For this reason, I decided to write a blog about my first week of my last off-season; the insider to a life of a student-athlete.
As team workouts began on Wednesday, a couple of days after spring classes began, I was awakened by the reality of the ‘off-season’. For me, off-season is the hardest time of the year. I often have to battle my emotions; fighting off dispiriting attitudes and reminding myself ‘there is a light at the end of the tunnel’. Off-season mostly consists of all the dirty, tough, and exhausting work, without the pleasing results of a win, televised game, awards, or any acknowledgements of fans. No one gets to see how much work is put into the off-season, and how draining it can be, but it is the time when we have the most opportunity to progress.
Wednesday began with a reasonably early workout at 7:45, all of us in the locker room with a touch of fear in our eyes. It is the mere fact that knowing where we need to be, and knowing where we are, intimidates us from starting the journey. We began with a light warm-up to get our muscles going, although anticipating a fatiguing workout. It began as expected, with a couple body weight routines' and then we were thrown into the heavy, weight-baring lifting. After what seemed like an overdose of leg, arm, and ab exercises we were entering the newly formed cardio workouts. Being a volleyball player, I am not used to the intense cardio routines that other athletes may be acclimated to. So in entering upon our first plyometric and ropes circuit I was more than unprepared. I began in the ropes course, across from the plyometric lateral step-ups. Although excited at first, it soon turned into a longing to stop. Out of breath, finding the drive within me to pull the heavy ropes up and down, I was frequently reminded to make the rope ripple from top to bottom. It felt like minutes before the first circuit was over and we soon grabbed the attention of all of the professional athletes in the weight room with our heavy breathing and uncontrollable sighs of distress. As half the team circled around a trashcan, hoping they wouldn’t vomit on their first cardio account, I stared at my next task in a daze, unsure of what I was doing. That whistle, no athlete ever likes to hear, blew loud followed by shouts of encouragement which seemed more like anger, and we were on to the next round. Half way through that second round I began to feel like I was moving in slow motion. Trying to make it seem like I wasn’t so out-of-shape, I attempted to move my legs faster, only to realize that I was moving at a dauntingly slow pace. Gasping for air, whilst trying to seem athletic amongst our audience of athletes, and listening to the shouts of frustration amongst my teammates it seemed as though this wasn’t going to stop. I remember telling a teammate, “Is this a f****** joke?” It was soon to be over, and the reality of it was that it was making us stronger. Entering the locker room we found it laughable at our discouraging thoughts and seemingly weak appearance. After this demanding exercise I found myself relieved and excited. Although my body was aching from head to toe, and I could barely walk upstairs to class without physically picking my legs up from stair to stair, there was a sort of thrill in the agonizing first day. I would have never said this as a freshman, or even as a sophomore in College, but finally after knowing that becoming a professional athlete is a goal of mine, I take pride in the hard work I encounter to get there.
The day did not stop after the early morning workout, it continued till about 9 at night. After the early workout we had a quick meeting with coaches and advisors about what was going to be the next four months. Then, after quick showers, we jetted off to classes to begin our third day of school. Into about an hour of class, uncontrollably my eyes grew weary and it became a physical effort to maintain my utmost attention while also keeping my eyes lids open. It is not that I was in anyway uninterested in what I was learning (I am actually eager to hear about my lessons in community psychology, research methods, and more), but it was honestly the fact that I was too drained to be the active student I often wish to be. I pride myself in being a glasses-wearing, freckle-faced, front row, overachieving student, but often feel punished by fatigue. By the end of the day after hours of lectures, writing notes, and participating in classroom activities, it was about 9 at night. Being an athlete you have to fit your schedule around practices, so sometimes that leaves you with the night classes drawing out your day longer than you may wish. After finishing what may seem as undesirable amounts of school, I still felt excited and eager to be there. In my classes at UM I am surrounded by many aspiring psychologists, doctors, artists, professors, and more, and this motivates me to push myself more than ever to be the professional I hope to be. As I hear about the seniors in my classes being accepted into different grad schools, or in different post-undergrad internships, I think about my possibilities to eventually receive a PhD of my own, and possibly have my own practice in the future. Each class, although tiring, takes me closer to that reality, and for that reason, I enjoy overloading my schedule.
After reflecting on my first week of spring, and entering into my final year of volleyball and school, I find this experience to be a bit more pleasing. Although still tired, exhausted, and often discouraged, I see the progress and the excitement in knowing I am closer than ever to getting there. I value the hectic schedule that often seems overwhelming, but is ultimately beneficial to my success, and for that I am grateful.
MLK Quote: “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, keep moving.“
MLK Weekend Abs Circuit
(10) Plank pushups
(30) Bicycle Crunches
(20) Foot to Foot Crunches