Take Your Shot: The Student Athlete Experience

Jun 25, 2020
Ashley Watson

Are you interested in becoming a college student athlete? If you’re considering that path, then read this article. Cameron Mims, a psychology major at Brenau University, tells me what it really means to be a student athlete and how she handles it all.

Ashley: When did you start playing sports and was being a college athlete a part of your long term plan?
Cameron: I played my first sport in third grade, softball, and I hated it. So when I went to middle school I decided to try out for volleyball just to do something, and I enjoyed it. In the eighth grade, I finally decided to try out for the basketball team after being pressured. I never played before, so I was nervous at first, but I began to enjoy it, and I
saw progress. Initially I didn’t plan to play college ball, but I became better at it during my high school career. College coaches started to recruit me, and I saw my potential, so I decided to play college ball.

Ashley: So, I heard that you play two sports- basketball and track. What made you want to play both?
Cameron: In high school, I was already playing varsity basketball. During the year, as I was playing, the track coach saw me and noticed I could throw a basketball far. So he asked if I would like to throw for the track team. The first year I said no, but the second year I budged because of my friends, and I became really good at it so I began to love it. I had many scholarships during high school, but I decided to pick one sport going into college before I transferred to Brenau. When I came to Brenau I saw they had a great track team, so I went to the track coach and told him my interest. After participating he eventually offered me a scholarship.

Ashley: When you were a freshman how did you handle the new workload plus practicing?
Cameron: Coming in I thought it would be a lot harder to manage, but I feel that it was just like high school. Although, I had to work on my time management a little more. I had a little more freedom because I wasn’t with my parents, so I had to find a structured system.

Ashley: Was there ever a time when you dropped the ball (no pun intended) in your schoolwork? How did you recover?
Cameron: There was a time during my freshman or sophomore year when I had to take summer classes and I dropped the ball because I had never taken summer classes. I wanted to have fun, it was my first summer being a college student. I wanted to enjoy myself, and I did just that. In the long run, it ended up biting me in the butt, but I recovered because every semester after that, I knew what I had to do and I’ve worked extremely hard since then to improve my grades and my GPA has majorly increased.

Ashley: What are your time management strategies? Like, how do you find time for studying and for how long?
Cameron: I typically do all my studying and homework late at night because that’s when I find my peace, less distraction, and when I’m most focused.

Ashley: At the end of the day, how do you decompress?
Cameron: I decompress by either watching T.V, scrolling through my phone, or chatting with my friends and family to relieve some stress.

Ashley: How do you remember important dates for assignments and games?
Cameron: I usually do so by mentally noting it, which I do a pretty good job of, or writing things on my calendar.

Ashley: What are your other responsibilities other than sports and school?
Cameron: I’m also a part of the Gospel Choir at Brenau, a part of FCA, and I am an older sister, so I have my days when I have to focus on my little brother.

Ashley: What is your schedule like and how much sleep do you usually get?
Cameron: My schedule is pretty crazy because I have classes all day, practice, and I still have to have meals in between. As I mentioned, I also like to do my work late at night, so some days it is extremely hard to get rest.

Ashley: How do you keep it all together?
Cameron: I keep it all together with God. I like to focus on my relationship with God because I know that He’s the only way I can get through a lot of the things that I experience. He is the only reason I am where I am today. So I pray ,pray, pray, and turn to him in times of uncertainty or discomfort.

Ashley: Did you ever feel, at one point, that it was best to leave your team(s) to focus on your academics?
Cameron: I have never felt that way in terms of completely leaving, but I have missed a few games to ensure that my grades never slipped, so there have been a couple of sacrifices.

Ashley: Have you ever felt burnt out if so how did you recover?
Cameron: I’ve definitely felt burnt out before, but I’ve coped by talking to my parents, praying, taking a break, and finding my inner peace.

Ashley: Do you ever feel like more of an athlete than a student? Like, playing sports is more important than school?
Cameron: I’ve never felt like playing sports is more important than school. Although there have been times where sports are so emotionally draining on top of academics that I’ve had to step back and take a breather from being overly stressed and wanting to do great at both.

Ashley: Does everyone get along on your teams? If so, how do you handle the conflicts?
Cameron: Everyone mostly gets along, even with differences. I feel that people on my teams typically group up with either class or common interest, so it keeps conflict at a minimum. When there are times of conflict we try to have meetings to limit further conflict.

Ashley: How has the Coronavirus affected you as a student-athlete?
Cameron: The Coronavirus has greatly affected me, but it has also helped me. Sports, for me, is a sense of balance; so I find that when I need a break from school I can at least focus on my craft, and now I feel very isolated. I do enjoy the extra time to do work, but I miss my teammates as well as not being able to complete my track season.

Ashley: In the end, why is playing two sports worth it?
Cameron: In the end, sports teaches you leadership, even if you’re not typically a leader, it teaches you hard work even when things do not go your way. And most of all teamwork and sacrifice because sometimes you’re not working hard just for you, but your team as well, and that is an important concept in life. I feel that sports gives you that toughness that you can’t always learn in the real world, some people refer to it as tough love, and I think that’s what sports are all about. You might fail but you always get back up and finish the course.

Ashley: What is your advice for incoming college athletes?
Cameron: My advice for incoming student-athletes is to focus on the student part of student-athlete, and not lose sight of that because essentially you are coming to college for a degree, but also have the opportunity to further your athletic career. The main objective is to be able to say you were a student-athlete and exceed in doing that. When you leave college you want to know that you’ve accomplished 3 things: Obtaining a degree, having a chance to play college sports, and forming great relationships with people.