Olympic Preparation vs. Freshman Year:
When I think of my college career, I like to compare it to my Olympic Preparation. Every Olympic cycle is four years, which is the same duration as getting a degree in the USA. During the first year of a new Olympic cycle brings a fresh crop of players, who are all excited, nervous and unsure of what the future holds. As a college Freshman, I had a similar experience; everyone is excited, nervous and unsure of what to expect in their new adventure.
The first year of my Olympic journey was a grind. It is all about finding your place, making new friends and rising to the challenge. In my freshman year of college, it was all about figuring out how to live with a roommate, making new friends and witnessing first-hand how amazing American food halls are. In both environments, difficult decisions needed to be made such as; Should I have a breakfast burrito or fruit smoothie with some oatmeal for breakfast... Sometimes this was a difficult decision, but Olympic gold was always on my mind.
Halfway through year one of my Olympic quest, things started getting tough. The excitement I had felt at the outset, began to wear off as fatigue set in and people started to fading away. As a college Freshman, life is very exciting at the start; however, I began feeling homesick as the year wore on. The enormous workload, multitasking friends, and the practice schedule of a full-time college athlete became a daunting task, and I quickly realised how stressful being a well-balanced student-athlete is.
By the end of my first year in the Olympic cycle, I finally got into a rhythm and began using the amazing resources at my disposal; such as my coach, teammates, and the support staff. After experiencing the hard work it takes to be an Olympian, I made a mental agreement with myself and promised to rise to the challenge that lay ahead. As my Freshman year came to an end, it was a similar story. I finally settled into college life, built friendships with some amazing people and I realised that when life gets overwhelming, your professors and teachers are always there to help you.
If there is one lesson I learned in my first year of college and Olympic preparation, it is to make every second count. Before you know it, your first year is over, and you have settled into the new norm. Don't let opportunities pass you by, be sure to keep your goals firmly at the top of your priorities and know you are not alone in this process. There are always people who you can count on to assist during the highs and the lows that will occur as you follow your dreams.
Be on the lookout for next week’s blog By Sarah: Olympic Preparation – Sophomore Year
Have you ever considered if you are eligible to study and play sports at a college in the USA? Many student-athletes love the idea of playing college sports in the USA but are unaware of the requirements that need to be met in order to do so. There are four athletic associations that students can compete in; however, we are only going to cover the main two.
The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) are the two largest athletic associations in the USA. They determine if student-athletes are eligible to compete at the college level or not. The NCAA is the larger of the two associations, with 1200 member colleges who compete across three divisions, 1, 2 & 3, while the NAIA only has one division and 300 member colleges. (NAIA College Basketball is the only sport in the association that has multiple divisions, 1 & 2).
Both the NCAA and the NAIA have academic and sporting requirements; the NAIA is known to have a more relaxed approach to academics compared to the NCAA.
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA)
National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA)
The sporting requirements for both the NAIA and the NCAA are very straightforward; they require athletes to be playing at an amateur level, having never before competed as a professional. Athletes are limited as to how many years they can play college sports; every athlete is able to compete for a total of four years. The NCAA provides athletes with only five years to complete their four years of competition after completing high school, while the NAIA does not restrict students who can compete long after finishing high school.
While the NCAA maybe the larger of the two associations, they are both extremely competitive and both have ample opportunities for international athletes. Depending on the individual Student-Athlete, they will have their preference as to which association they choose to participate in.