With Labor Day behind us, it means everyone is pretty much back in school mode.
Dena Tyson, the former All-American at the Univ. of Washington and today a successful Corona Angels head coach at the 18U and 16U levels, knows what it takes to manage the athletic and academic loads that come with being a student-athlete.
In today’s blog, she talks about what it takes to strike a happy balance in all areas of life.
Dena is the daughter of legendary Corona Angels head coach Marty Tyson and competed at the University of Washington from 2002 to 2007.
She was part of Husky teams that made the Women’s College World Series three times (2003, ’04 and ’07) and as a senior for Washington was a 1st Team All-American. Dena was also selected to the WCWS All-Tournament Team in 2007.
Be sure to check out her previous blogs too including Being a Team Player, Barfing, Mediocrity & the Top 1%, How to Deal With Failure, How to Deal With Riding the Bench and How to Pick the Right College.
I will be the first to admit that I made a mediocre attempt at balancing my life as a student-athlete.
Being a student-athlete takes major commitment and I think the biggest mistake that student-athletes make is that they wait until they get to college to work on being a good one.
To do this successfully in college, you have to start now (before you get there)!
We have a saying in our organization: “You don’t fit softball into your life, you fit your life into softball.”
When I bring this up, I always have a few people express concerns that this approach may cause their kids to get burned out. Well, listen to me carefully: you can fit life into softball and strike a healthy balance with the other things in your life.
If your goal is to play in college, you have to make softball the priority while successfully balancing the other things in your life like schoolwork, downtime and a social life.
If you want to take a vacation, do it, but do it during your team’s off season in August or December. Or try to incorporate a mini-vacation with a tournament you travel to, like Colorado.
If you ask any freshmen in college, what the hardest thing about college is, they will tell you that it’s time management.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when parents cancel lessons or miss practice because their kid has too much homework or needs to study. Trust me, this is not setting them up to be a successful student-athlete in college.
Instead, encourage them to proactively manage their time during the week in a manner that allows them to complete their homework while working on becoming a great softball player.
As parents, I challenge you to make this a priority in your child’s life now so they won’t be as shell-shocked when they get to college.
One of the things that you can do now to better prepare yourself to be a student-athlete in college is to create a schedule and follow it!
Here is an example of what a typical college day looked like for me:
- 6am: Weights
- 8am-1pm: Class (usually have time to get that power nap)
- 1pm-5pm: Practice
- 5pm-6pm: Study Hall
Now this doesn’t include travel days or extended periods of time away from campus.
Who remembers my Huskies’ national championship run when they left for Regionals and didn’t return to Seattle until they brought home that trophy (three weeks on the road)!
What good student-athletes do is create a schedule and STICK TO IT. Looking at this schedule, there is absolutely time to enjoy other things in your college life, but it is all in the execution.
Being a student-athlete in college is like having a job and with any job you have to complete your work before you have fun.
Yes, I get that we don’t want to use the word “job” but being a student-athlete is like having a job. You are given monetary compensation for your softball skills, therefore it’s a job, just one that we really love!
This all seems so simple, but simple is not synonymous with easy.
I can tell you that every student-athlete attempts to keep a schedule but somehow they still end up not completing their tasks and something doesn’t get their full effort (either the student part or the athlete part).
When I was able to truly master the student-athlete life, I started to WRITE MY SCHEDULE DOWN… I call it the power of the pen!
When you write something down you feel that you need to achieve it! Meeting my coach to hit every morning became a must because I wrote it down!
Writing that I am studying during a certain time gave me the ability to say no to my friends who wanted to go hang out! We are all humans and we never want to disappoint ourselves.
To this day, I continue to write out my schedule to the minute every week. I do this because I noticed that when I stopped, I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life. I had to reflect on my student-athlete days.
I am going to leave you with the message I want you to take from this blog.
Yes, being a student athlete is tough! It requires hard work, self-discipline and sacrifice. Time management is the key to making it all work. You will miss out on a lot of things, but I promise you it will make you a better person and you can have fun while doing it.
I had my share of fun in college, even during my All-American season! The key to finding balance as a student-athlete is to develop good time management skills that will allow you to handle your business first and then have fun.
Ex-student athletes usually find success as working adults because we understand what it takes to balance things in our lives and we are really good at it.
For instance, I am a mother, wife, teacher and coach and I rely on my past experiences as a student-athlete to ensure that all of these important things in my life operate at 100 percent every day.