A day in the life of a student-athlete

Columnist Naaman Hightower.

“Oh, you’re an athlete? Teachers must love you! I bet you get it so easy.” This common phrase doesn’thold true in my experience whatsoever. Not only does being a student athlete compound things when it comes to time management, but the student-teacher relationship is met with judgment, stereotypes and prejudice. You think your college experience has been tough? Step into the day in the life of a student-athlete.

The alarm on my iPhone sounds at 5 a.m.. Great. With preseason workouts at 6 a.m, that leaves me 40 minutes to shower, get dressed and try to stomach something that will give me enough energy to last through a grueling three hour practice. Collegiate sports from basketball to tennis are no joke. The competition in practice forces me to push my body to the limit on a daily basis. As much as basketball is a physical sport, our coaches also challenge us mentally on a daily basis. Intellectually, I have to be constantly on point, because every detail is crucial to our success as a team. After a three hour physical and mental workout is complete, time for class.

After rushing through a two-minute shower, somehow I get to class on time. As a very disciplined student-athlete, much of which my coaches have taught me to be, I choose sit in the first two rows of every class I attend. While I walk into my, I feel the eyes of my peers and my professor glance my direction. Granted, I am 6-foot-7 inches tall and African American at a school that is nearly 65 percent white, Iunderstand the glances.

The stereotype of male athletes in general is we get it easy. Professors know our coaches, so the easy A is a virtual guarantee. Wrong. Personally, I have had professors point me out in class to challenge my intellect as if I am not supposed to take my education seriously. Once, I had a college professor tell the class to stand up and applaud me for receiving the highest grade on a research paper. The stereotype that all I’m only on this campus to do is play basketball and win games has lead to unfair stereotyping on innocent students.

Courtesy // Tyler Lobe

The Sonoma State University Men's Basketball team.

Somehow I make it noon, snacking on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fruit snacks to please my roaring stomach. Phew, finally the day is over. Wrong again. Time for my 1 p.m. descriptive physics class. Doesn’t everybody just love physics? For the record, eight hours have passed since a full healthy meal was consumed. The class makes a joke out of how many times my stomach is going to interrupt the teaching of Professor Su-Young.

Class ends, but the day is just beginning. Academic meetings follow a very tiring day of practice and classes. The time has come for our academic advisor, Mr. Libbon, to make sure I’m on track with all of my classes. As we go down the list of classes, I feel my eyes starting to drift. Pinching myself as to not disrespect the very old school Mr. Libbon, we finally reach the checkered flag. The time has come for some food, but not before a two-mile bike ride back to my apartment. Reaching home sweet home, I try to make the healthiest choice possible, but Panda Express is smelling too good to pass up. Besides, it’s right next to my job. Didn’t I mention I have an eight-hour shift to look forward too? With no time for a nap, I get to it.

However, everyday is not as rigorous as this. According to NCAA rules, Sonoma State is mandated to give us one off day every week. Some days are easier than others. Now, you might say, “Didn’t you sign up for this? Nobody is forcing you to do all of that.” This is very true.

We as student-athletes don’t want sympathy, but empathy. Simply knowing what our schedules are like can make the regular student, 89 percent of the campus according to Sonoma State, put things in perspective.