So today is a great day in the life of student-athletes as we have no early morning session. But to their disappointment, the Grad assistant coaches are still out early making sure that the field is in proper knick and looking good after our sessions yesterday as there would be some of the possible recruits on the campus who are having a trial scrimmage.
The grads work just as hard if not harder for their post-grad degree scholarships – getting an MBA is not all sunshine and flowers. (Although this is something that we can also facilitate and find placements for)
When chatting about the sporting lifestyle people always think that student-athletes have it easier. This I am afraid is not true, so with your scholarship comes a real responsibility. That is why being on a scholarship teaches you more than what you learn in the classroom, it brings you closer to real life, and it shows you, that to keep the good things in life you have to work harder than anyone else in your position. You have to work harder than anyone else that is wanting to be in your position, for every single cent that you have in your scholarship there are 10 other players trying to take it away.
Game week prep – match days Wednesday and Saturday
7:30am – 8:30am:
Getting up in time for a full breakfast and a slow walk to class is really a luxury around the soccer and international student’s house. Normally people are scurrying around at 8:20 trying to get everything for their 8:30 class. You even have the odd player that just decides 8:30 class is not happening today and will go back to sleep. If you ever did this there were prayers going out all day that the lecturer never spoke to your coach or all hell would break loose at the afternoon practice that day.
Breakfast for a pre-match day was normally something hearty and filling – getting the energy levels up and loading you with the necessary vitamins and nutrients. That meant a whole lot of fruit, some eggs, and even chocolate milk (if this was available) on the odd occasion. Some guys would get that sneaky croissant in on the way out and out of the site of the sports nutritionist and assistant coaches.
8:30am – 1pm:
You are now off to lectures for the day, normally as we got into the lecture laptops were up and we were all sitting in a row looking at the roster of the team that we were playing the next day. Scouting who was from which countries, checking their stats, checking on where they came from with regards to football, did they have any pedigree? Did they play for a pro side back home? Seriously if this much research went into our school work as we did scouting and analyzing the opposition we would all be doctors today.
Moving class to class lecturers would be wishing us luck, telling us about their soccer days and how they were one step away from professional. You know the usual… You were talking to classmates who wanted to come and watch or watch the game live via the internet. The buzz and feeling was always amazing.
1pm – 3:30pm
So morning classes are done and there is a tennis match on, some of the lads would make their way out to the tennis courts after having a bite to eat for lunch to support our fellow athletes. There were a lot of international players on the tennis teams so we were all pretty close and really enjoyed supporting each other.
We would also check if there were any players from our home countries there and go have a chat. This is one of the powerful things of sports overseas, is that you find a real common ground even if it is just your homeland and you guys actually live 12 hours away from each other yet you still feel like you are close friends.
Some guys leave to go to their afternoon classes, other leave a little later and go get strapped up and rehab done before the afternoon training session. The nerves are starting to set in with the younger players for the game tomorrow. As you go up the ranks you understand how to sort these nerves out. Something that prepares you for any professional sports life after college.
3:45pm – 5pm:
We have all ordered new boots through our kit supplier who was Adidas at the time so there is a proper buzz out on the fields. The grads have done an amazing job and have set up the training beforehand, looks like a proper strategy and game simulation training ahead.
Once again coach is arriving training schedule in hand and his car loaded with Adidas boxes. We are all praying that we have ordered the correct size and that we can play in these beasts tomorrow.
All the guys have their boots and are ready; talking is over, now its match time. The game always started at the training session the day before, people would change which is something that was amazing to witness, how moods became serious, people stopped mucking about and we were all about the win.
Even though we had a game the next day tackles would fly in, players are playing for their starting positions here so not much mercy. You would leave it all on the field because you knew that tomorrow was even tougher.
Once training had finished coach would pull us all in and give a really good indication of who was starting and who would be on the bench you had to have your head straight as we are playing for survival here against a local rival in the first round of the conference championship. All the senior players pulling in the team when the coach had left and giving the pep talk normally from one of the great sporting movies (Any given Sunday or even The Replacements) well it seemed to get the players going. Some guys staying on to improve their set pieces or just putting that extra bit.
The recruits for the coming years come over and we have a good chat with them about the school and what they can expect if they came to the university. This happened quite regularly in the NAIA as potential athletes could visit as many times as they liked. We would be doing this wrapped up nice and tight with ice packs and blood flow kinetic tape all over your body.
5pm – 8pm:
So this really varied on what you were doing from player to player, we would all go off to dinner after training some of the guys still sweaty and wanting to hit a light gym session in the evening (really to work off some nerves). Others would shower have a light pre-game dinner then go on to coaching youngsters at the local schools or clubs. Helping the communities is all part of the job of a student-athlete if you were lucky making a bit of extra cash on the side.
We would all be back by 8 pm this was now nearing a curfew time of 9 pm. The coach and captain would normally have a pre-game discussion and then do an evening walk around campus to all the players. This was not really to check up on the players but to have a discussion on the player’s roles and responsibilities for the next day in the game. We would get their heads in the game before it even started, knowing what their job was to win. Finishing that walk the players would all be tucked away sleeping and dreaming of the big W!!!!
Well most of them…..
Catch the game day blog tomorrow with travel routines and all.