There’s an Alex Morgan quote that says, “Dream big because dreams do happen.” I used to carry that around on a crumbled up purple index card in my soccer bag. I rarely physically looked at it, but it was always there serving as a reminder as to why I ran from the upper quad down to the stadium for practice in the heat of the day.
I had wanted to play soccer in college ever since I could remember. That’s what made committing to play soccer at Frostburg State University before the start of my senior year so special. It was a dream come true.
When I was looking at schools, coaches would give me a “standard” day in the life. Basically, their version was all about going to class and practice making it sound like a piece of cake. Being a student-athlete is hard, but that’s what makes it so worth it. I’m here to share what a typical “day in the life” looked like.
On a day where we just had practice, I’d wake up and eat breakfast – the everyday morning things. I would get ready, pack my soccer bag, and then head off to my first class of the day. I would typically have two morning classes and one in the early afternoon. With how my schedule usually worked out, I’d have class before practice, so I’d find myself either eating a pre-packed lunch (usually a sandwich with some kind of snack) in class or shoveling in a granola bar on the way down to the turf. Practice was usually two hours – some days there was conditioning, others there wasn’t. We’d know before practice if we’d be running as our coach would send the dreaded “Track at 2” text around 10 am which indicated you better bring your running shoes! After practice, we would have to quickly clean up the turf and put the soccer goals back as another team was ready for their time slot.
Twice a week, we would head up to the PE Center after practice to meet with our strength coach for our lifting sessions. There, we'd grab our workout cards our strength coach has pre-prepared for us. We would get a quick rundown of what the workout looked like before splitting up into small groups to tackle the workout. If we lifted after a game day, sometimes it was just recovery, meaning we’d be doing yoga, a pool workout, or a light workout filled with stretching. And yes, my team got lucky where 6 am lift was a rarity but lifting before the sun comes up is something that happens!
Now, there’s class and practice and lift. But, added in, you are finding times to meet with your professor about an assignment, going in to see your athletic trainer to get help with an injury, working with fellow students on a group project or running off to an event a student group you are a part of is hosting. Then, you are balancing your schoolwork, personal life, maybe even a job. Some days practice would end just as the dining hall was closing, so you’d get extra steps in hustling over to use your dinner swipe.
Game days look similar. Most of the time, my teammates and I would be able to go back to our off-campus houses or dorms to eat a something before having to go to the locker room to get ready. We’d meet in our locker room about an hour before we were expected to be down at the turf for warm-up. In that hour, we’d get taped up by our trainer, get our uniforms/equipment on, sing at the top of our lungs, and rally around the fact we had an opportunity to go prove how good we were.
For away games, there were days we wouldn’t miss any class if the game was relatively close. There were days when you’d miss one or two. Others you’d miss your entire class schedule since you’d be spending the day on a bus. If you missed class, you were responsible for making up the assignment/exam or getting the notes. My coach would give up a form where we'd fill out what class and highlight what day(s) we'd be missing to give to our professor. I never had an issue with a professor about missing class. It rarely counted as an "absence" and as long as you'd make up the work, it was never a problem. We'd usually arrive at the field 1.5 hours before kickoff. For about 45 minutes, we had time to get dressed, meet with an athletic trainer, and get hyped up in the locker room before warming up. After the game, we would always get food before traveling back to campus. Hopefully, we won the game, so it'd be a fun bus ride back!
I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy. But, after a couple weeks, it becomes second nature. It’s the life you are used to and wouldn’t trade for the world. Some days you won’t want to do it. And that’s okay. Because even though you don’t want to, you will, and you’ll look back and be glad you did.