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On Being A Student Athlete at Oxford: Striking a Balance

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At Oxford, excelling academically is expected. Joining clubs and extracurricular activities is popular. Playing on an intercollegiate athletic team? Uncommon. About a hundred students at Oxford College, or a little more than 10 percent of the student body, call themselves student athletes. As a member of the women’s soccer team, I am one of these students. That sounds nice and all, but what does being an athlete at Oxford really entail?

For starters, we arrive on campus two weeks early for pre-season. Don’t ask me much about it because I try to forget. When classes start, we practice two hours every day. Games, usually on the weekends, tend to take from about seven in the morning to midnight.

Studying does not tend to happen on a typical weeknight until 8pm, and Lils is often not an option for dinner because practice runs late. My friends outside of soccer are probably sick of hearing me say that I have soccer and cannot make it to events and social activities. This requires that I have to put more effort into seeing my friends outside the team.

Being a student athlete is incredibly time consuming. I won’t deny that. But ultimately, I wouldn’t trade my experience as a student athlete for anything. What I get in return is worth rushing to meetings, being extra careful with timing, and staying up late to study. Being on the soccer team has given me a tight-knit group of friends that are entirely different than me, yet always there to offer support and guidance.

There are some people on the team who are pre-med, some who are pre-business, and some who are pre-nothing. Some people on the team are from California, others from New York. Some who like to watch Grey’s Anatomy and some who like to watch Desperate Housewives. There are some who do their homework on the bus and some who sleep the entire way. Some who love to dance and sing and others who would prefer to watch.

If I am every struggling with how to study for a test, I can just ask a teammate for help because there is bound to be one of them that has taken the class. If there is ever an event I want to attend, yes, I’m looking at you OxStudies, I can just ask the team, and someone will come with me. Most athletes at Oxford also participate in clubs, and many are on executive boards. Although I am the girl who runs in right on time to meetings or events in my sweaty practice clothes, I won’t participate any less.

These are the friends that don’t disappear after you go your separate ways, either. I still talk to the juniors who were on the team last year. These are about 20 friends that you will always know you have. Sometimes it gets stressful being on the soccer team, sometimes I struggle to keep up with my schoolwork, be active in clubs, and still come to practice and get sleep. But, at the end of the day, all that stress and struggling is worth it for the wins that come and the friends I make.

One of the best memories I have had while at Oxford was right after we won our regional qualifying game. Everyone started cheering and yelling and we all hugged each other because that is what you work for. It was not an easy game at all and everyone gave it their all, which just made winning that much better.

This year, our team made it to regionals and is seeded number one. When I think about all the successes we’ve had and the friends I have made, the time I have put into soccer doesn’t seem like enough.

Photo courtesy of Riley Swab

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On Being A Student Athlete at Oxford: Striking a Balance