Santiago: the perspective of a student athlete


Let me start off by saying nothing is given and everything is earned. Yes, scholarships are always involved, and I have personally seen players come and go because the coaches take their scholarship away for not living up to the expectations set for everyone else on the team. A scholarship is like a one-year renewable contract. When you sign somewhere officially, you are only signing for one year and not four. This does not just apply to soccer; this happens for football, tennis, baseball and every other NCAA sponsored sports.

While it breaks my heart to lose teammates, sometimes this lifestyle we live; the early practices, weight sessions, traveling for four days or more, is so taxing on the body that enough is enough. The “student-athlete” lifestyle is something that takes mental strength, someone with guts, someone who can step up, be a leader in this world filled with followers without hesitation. While concurring that, also trying to maintain good grades, a social life and volunteering for extra curricular activities to make sure your resume stays intact for future jobs.

Typically, my week looks like this: Monday through Wednesday I have practice at 5:45 in the morning then I leave straight from practice to head to class. Class is followed by weights at 3 p.m. then night class at 6:30. Thursdays and Sundays are game days and Friday through Saturday we have early morning practices again. Everyone is different when trying to balance all of these things, but I personally succeed by managing my time and staying extremely organized and focused.  

We are ambassadors of the school. Basically we are like a traveling billboard, wherever we go, no matter how far or how close we are to campus, we represent our school. Even when we go out to eat on a regular Tuesday night, how we present ourselves in public is crucial. One bad report on the sport we are representing could ruin sponsorships, alumni donation and much more that is being given to the program itself.

In my four years of playing a Division I sport, even though they have been some of the most difficult years of my life, have helped me to grow so much as a person. I have learned how to build a cohesive unit, patience, compartmentalizing and self-reflection. The good has outweighed the bad, and through all the blood sweat and tears, I wouldn’t trade it for the world because of the life lessons it has brought and the relationships I have fostered. Those memories are something I can carry for the rest of my life, and, I will always have a love for the one thing that has pushed me harder than I could have ever pushed myself.  This one is for you soccer, thank you.