By: LOREN VUKOVITS
Playing sports can benefit you in a lot of different ways. When your team needs you, you must become a leader. Working with the same group of people for hours each week, helps develop teamwork. Being put through tough circumstances and adversity builds perseverance. Not to mention the benefits to your mind and body.
Being a college athlete is the same, except on a much grander scale. I can’t speak for other teams, in other divisions, but I can say what it’s like to be a women’s basketball player here at IU South Bend.
We compete in one of the toughest conferences in the country—the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC), part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The NAIA is a mix of mid-sized athletics from college to universities around the country. The CCAC is home to fifteen schools. For women’s basketball, five of these teams are in the top 25 in the country. Pretty impressive.
Because of the competitiveness of our conference, it takes a lot to be a women’s basketball player.
Our pre-season conditioning starts in early September—a three week period that includes a lot of sprints on the track and agility work in the gym. We do a combination of one day at the track, the next in the gym, four days a week.
This type of conditioning is necessary for us before we start the season. It gets our bodies ready for the months to come.
Season officially starts at the end of September. Season is five months long but could be longer if our team advances in the conference tournament. In this time period, we can be playing up to three times a week. Our games can be up to 5 hours away which means we spend a lot of time on the bus and traveling. Because of this we have to keep up with school work and plan accordingly if we miss class because of game or practice conflict.
On the days we don’t play, we practice. Practice is usually two hours where we get ready for the next team we’ll be playing. Practice can be a mix of watching film on the other team, running through plays, and perfecting our shots. Everyday is different.
There’s also the time we spend lifting in the weight room or putting up extra shots on the court. This betters our game even more. Most weeks we get Sundays off to rest our bodies and recuperate for the upcoming week.
In all honesty, being a college athlete is a lot of work. It’s a lot like having a full time job and being a full time student. It definitely has it’s benefits though. We get to stay in shape and play the sport most of us fell in love with as kids. We travel throughout the Midwest and get to see a lot of places we wouldn’t normally see otherwise. We play for a fantastic coach, Steve Bruce, who is even a better person and mentor. Not to mention the friendships I’ve made along the way. I consider some of my teammates my absolute best friends.
So being a college athlete is rewarding, enjoyable, and never, never boring.