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Set priorities and stay focused

Celia Collymore

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Don’t?quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion – Muhammad Ali
The summer is over and you are back in the swing of things at school/college/university.
Being a student athlete is a full-time job, it’s not easy. But in the end team camaraderie, personal and professional development and success make it all worthwhile.
The academic years can be challenging. Juggling classes, tests, practicals and late-night studying can be a lesson in prioritizing for some. Throw in a sport and it takes the student athlete experience to a new level.
Life as a student athlete can be a fun and rewarding experience. It can also prove to be overwhelming.
Stick close to your coaches – their ultimate goal is to help you grow from teenagers to young adults. See them as a role models, teachers, mentors, disciplinarians, sounding boards, counsellors, and parents away from home.
One thing you do not want to do early on in your stint is take your opportunity for granted. Stay focused and make informed decisions. If you are unsure, seek the help of someone you trust to help you make that decision. Don’t wait before it’s too late.
My first year is college was tough. Class load, basketball, adjusting to a foreign country and lack of confidence presented a huge challenge. I found it hard to focus and perform in the classroom.
The pressure to perform on and off the court became intense and the only person I could rely on was me, despite the conversations and support I got from loved ones.
I made it a point to prioritize my life – live, breathe, eat, sleep and drink everything that was school and basketball. I was not about to lose everything because of lack of focus or other distractions.
So, I went about:
• creating a study schedule for myself and sticking to it;
• studying in the library instead of my room;
• asking tutors for help in subjects I had difficulties with;
• Connecting with professors for additional support and guidance;
• keeping coach abreast of my grades and progress
Here are a few tips on how to perform at the top of your game.
Keep teachers informed
Keep them in the know by giving them your practice schedule and the days you may miss at the beginning of the semester.
Many educators are flexible and understanding; as long as you take care not to take advantage of their kindness. Don’t be late in turning in assignments. If you will miss a class or two, find a classmate to copy notes.
Create balance and schedule down time
One of the most important things to do as a student athlete is rest. Although it may be scarce, setting aside time to refuel and re-energize can have an enormous affect on school work and physical performance.
Maintain a schedule
Invest in a daily planner with time slots. Write down your complete schedule for the day to ensure that you are getting things done.
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize
If you have a major test/assignment/project due in a few weeks, schedule your tasks and study consistently to avoid cramming and getting less-than-stellar results.
Avoid distractions and learn to say no. This may be the toughest part of becoming a successful student athlete.
When studying, remove yourself from the possibility of distractions. Go to a library, a quiet place, turn off your cell phone and commit to your goals. Keep your focus.
When you reflect on athletics and life, you only get one chance to get it right. Make the most of your opportunities.
• Celia Collymore is a former national women’s basketballer and founder/project manager of Bajan Fusion, a healthy lifestyle event management service.