10 Lessons Being a College Athlete Taught Me

To The Future Athlete…

After completing 5 years of collegiate sports, I wanted to share the irreplaceable lessons that I have learned while playing college sports. Looking back at it now, God’s hands were imprinted on every one of these lessons.  Perhaps you are just starting your athletic career, or perhaps you are curious about what life as a college athlete looks like. Either way, college athletics are engraved with some of the greatest life lessons.

1.) Train Hard & Smart.

This one may be a given, an obvious lesson. You’ve made it far enough to play at the collegiate level, and I know that it took heart and hustle. To be a collegiate athlete, it takes unreal grit and dedication to pursue a great dream. I learned that training hard and smart is ultimately one of the most powerful tools an athlete can have. Training hard is necessary.  Lifting weights, hitting softballs, running gruesome sprints, conditioning till your stomach rumbles, strict schedules, all of it was important & hard training. But we weren’t able to win a Mountain West championship by just training hard. Training smart was just as important as it means to train with intentionality. It never works out when you train to appease others for the sake of “trying”. You must train smart and utilize your resources and tools as efficiently as you can. Training hard freely gives confidence. Training hard and training smart combine to build muscle memory for every possible situation in a game. For every expected and unexpected moment and every vile possibility of a situation, you do not doubt because you trained both hard and smart. The more you train hard and smart, the more confidence builds within you. When you give your best effort in practice and take on extra reps, there is no coincidence when you feel confident in your game approach. 

You will never regret training hard and smart-

2.) Sweaty. Smelly. Hungry.

This one is a slight joke! 😉 Never have I ever been so sweaty, smelly, and hungry all the time. The aftermath of training hard and smart was always leaving me sweaty, smelly, and hungry. I can’t tell you how many times I had to hustle to class after an intense training session, with pit stains swallowing my shirt whole. I carried deodorant at all times in one of the water bottle pockets of my backpack for the safety of my classmates. As I sat down in class, my stomach and muscles would rumble & tumble…. And I would have to dive into my personalized and dedicated pocket in my backpack for snacks. It was my to-go pantry, full of handy dandy snacks. It wouldn’t be very long until the next wave of hunger. I joke because I was darn sweaty, smelly, and hungry 99% of the day. But these were signs of being a student-athlete that I adored. I loved the fact that my teammates and I had some physical evidence of the hard work we were doing in the early and late hours of the day. 

As an athlete, you will be sweaty. smelly. & hungry. Embrace it because it is inevitable evidence of the daily grind to become greater every day.

3.) Early bird gets the Sunrise.

Something that college athletics taught me was the beauty of sunrises and sunsets. You grind out the hours, all day long. The days start unapologetically, with you leaving your front door in the dark hours of the early morning, and they end with you dragging your feet in exhaustion back into the same door in the late hours of the night. Our weight room had huge window panels that faced the sunrises in the spring season. Every color blended across the horizon, making it a sight to see while pushing through the last painful reps of heavy lifting. You will learn to love the absolute stillness of the mornings. The whole world is asleep as you pull in and change in the locker room with your teammates. The world is still asleep as you run your morning laps, again and again, until everyone passes their PR time. Your stomach growls, notifying you that it’s time for the post-workout chocolate shake. One more rep, and another rep… the morning grind drags on… 

Then, those wide panel windows start to display the activity and breath of other humans as they start flooding the school parking lots, and walking across the once-still campus. As an athlete, you will get to embrace the beauty of being the first ones on campus, and the last ones leaving campus, driving into and out of the same dimly lit empty parking lots to head home.

Sunrises and sunsets are beautiful reminders of God’s creation and His provision of giving us another beautiful day to live for.

4.) God is the only Audience.

Audience of One was a quote that I pierced in my mind throughout my career. I used to have performance anxiety during my sporting games. I did not like having people watching me as it always proved to make me nervous. Sometimes it was good nerves because I wanted to do well for my people, and sometimes it became overbearing because I was overwhelmed by the possibility of failing in front of my support crowd. I wrote this on my softball glove, that God is the only audience. Not just the audience of one, but God was truly my only audience. My character was a reflection of whom I serve, which was a faithful God. I only care for His glory. He only cares that I do my best, and glorify His name in my character. It wasn’t about my performance, but it was about how I treated my teammates, my coaches, my opponents, the umpires, the field crew, and everyone involved within my sport and those who came to watch. I played with a smile because God is the only audience, and He gave me the gift to play the game of softball. He carved out many opportunities to interact with the world through this sport.  He used the sport to mold me more like Jesus, and He will do the same for you.

5.) “Respect Everyone, Fear Noone.” -John Wooden

  My head coach would always preach this quote to us. My team was often underdogs in the conference and the D1 softball landscape. But we were full of the hardest workers, and true grit. Other teams across the nations had the hottest recruits with insane talent. Our team had talent, but we had to work to get where we wanted to be. Part of our winning strategy included outworking our opponents throughout all seasons of competition. We played top teams, teams that have won the college world series, and made consecutive wins against them here and there. We had beat some of the top teams during my career. And it was because we were fearless. We were taught to respect everyone, our opponents, our umpires, our fans, and anyone that crossed our paths. However, we had to fear no one. No matter how hard the pitcher threw, how nasty her backdoor curveball was, or how fast their baserunner stole bases, we had faith in our process. The Lord doesn’t want us to live and play in fear, that is the enemy’s tactic. The moment we start to fall under the forces of fear, we are already losing. Fear is what the enemy hunts on. In competition, you ought to be humble in who you are facing, but confident in your preparation. Respect each person, however, fear no one because we serve a Mighty God.

6.) “No such thing as bad weather, just bad preparation.”

Another thing that my coach would declare over us was there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad preparation. I can’t tell you how many times we have played in weather that was borderline freezing, downpour rain, or just flat-out windy as heck. The weather was rarely ever on our side as we played in the western mountain regions. You will learn the beauty of extra layer garments, the power of fuzzy liners, the coziness of head warmers, electronic hand warmers, hand warmer fanny packs, etc. In life, we ought to be prepared for the bad weather and the storms in our lives. There will be sudden storm clouds blocking out  our sunny blue sky. The best preparation is the word of Jesus. The Gospel. Scriptures. The Word that is alive and active. For all times of trials, persecution, dark stormy clouds in our lives. The best preventative strategy is to be prepared. To pursue Jesus is our preparation for heavenly eternity and the darkest storms in our mundane world.

In Luke 4, Jesus is led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, and was tested by Satan. Each time, Jesus responds "It is written." God's word is the truth. It is written. The best preparation Jesus did was to know Scripture deep and wide in his heart to combat each of Satan's encounters. (Luke 4:1-12). 

7.) Family doesn’t include only Blood.

When you signed up to play on a collegiate team, you signed up to know a family that does not share the same blood as you. You signed up to collide paths with some girls that are completely different from you. Different upbringings, different stories, different physique, different perspectives, and you learn to love them for all that God created them to be. You learn to somehow get 25 different girls to work together on the field. Some of the greatest gifts are those teammates who become your best friends off the field. My teammates and I have faced some of the toughest trials of life together, and our bond was made stronger through it all. Within a team, people teach us lessons. Lessons that directly affect us, and lessons that we can witness from afar. Throughout the recruiting process, you as a player are somewhat chosen to be adopted into the current team’s family. The coaches scouted you, asked you to join, and you had to accept to be a part of this orchestrated team family. God has already chosen to adopt you into His family. His family is all of His beautiful sons and daughters that He has created, yet we need to choose Team Jesus.

8.) The Power of Rest.

I used to be the girl that would overwork myself. I thought getting better was in quantity. The more I swing, the more I throw, the better I get. This is true to a certain extent, however, it can turn into overuse easily. I learned the power of rest through college softball. Taking care of my heart, taking care of my spirit, taking care of my mind and soul is where I saw major growth in my athletic career. On my off days, I learned to value quality over quantity. I would take a few swings, to feel good about the upcoming week. But opening the Bible in a coffee shop in complete peace is where I was able to get my head cleared for the next week of competition and practice. Never underestimate the quality of time with Jesus and how it can influence your week. With more Jesus filling my cup, the better teammate, player, and student I was. I was connected to who I am supposed to be in His Kingdom. My actions were better aligned to be kinder, gentler, more compassionate, and a stronger work ethic when I spent the time taking care of my spiritual needs first rather than throwing out my arm, tearing muscles, or breaking my back trying to perfect my physical athletic postures. 

Physically, you will be drained. Exhausted. It is inevitable. I challenge those who are feeling the pang of physical deprivation, to submerge in the spiritual medicine of the Lord. Oftentimes, athletics idolizes our physical strength and mental strength, pushing spiritual strength to the backburner. On days of rest and days of competition, I found that spiritually fulfilling your heart will do extraordinary wonders for every athletic aspiration to come.  

9.)  FCA changes the perspective of competition.

When I first started my collegiate career, I completely abandoned Christ in my sport. I did FCA in high school, but I avoided my faith during my freshman year of college. I got so distracted and sidetracked with the earthly world in college. I started caring way too much about what others thought of me, what my coaches thought of me, that I started to forget who I was. I was vacating myself from the continuous love of Christ in my daily life. Every time I pursued to please someone else, I moved inches at a time away from God, which turned miles further and further away from Him. Freshman year knocked me out cold and desolate from my true identity. I was battered from pursuing unrealistic standards of perfection, unrealistic body image by comparison to others, and unrealistic and fake identity that the world was trying to mold me into.  By God’s will and design, I ended up finding FCA my sophomore year at my new school. Someone had kept persisting me to try FCA just for the fun heck of it! Little did I know that I would come to reconnect and pursue Jesus wholeheartedly. 

 And it completely changed my life. It changed the way I view college sports. It changed my relationship with Jesus. I needed Jesus in every corner, arch, floorplan of my life, especially during the time of my athletic career. 

I challenge you to visit your college  FCA, or a local church to keep that fiery connection and accountability with a community of other believers.

10.) Win Some. Lose Some.

The funny thing about college sports is that they can be made to be all about winning and losing. Coaches are pressured and marked by their wins, and even more so by their losses.  Fans pay to see athletes with the hope of a win. My team and I wanted to win every single time.  Don’t get me wrong, it is so fun to win. Losing painfully sucks (every competitive fiber in my body cringes at this word).  My team got to win a conference championship, and it was the greatest moment as we strived tirelessly for that goal. But you are going to win some, and lose some. It is inevitable. The Lord will be with us through it all. The highest of high when we hoist a trophy high, and the lowest of lows when we get our teeth knocked out. Everything we do is for His glory. It is not about flaunting our stardom of a performance, but rather our character and joy in everything we do.

College athletics is an extraordinary way to learn about who we are made to be, and our journey with our Lord. There are hard days, and there are days that will become your treasured favorite moments. The last thing I want to hit a note on is to SOAK it all in. It flies by, and the lessons you will learn will charge you for your lifetime. God uses sports in immaculate ways to show us who He is. The loving father He is. Let the spirit and faith in you SOAR.Go be the best college athlete that you can be, and that our Lord calls you to be. Be competitive in your sport, but most importantly, be competitive for the heartbeat of His Kingdom.

With all my heart,


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2 thoughts on “10 Lessons Being a College Athlete Taught Me”

    1. Hi!

      Thank you so much for commenting on my blog post! I greatly appreciate your time to read it. I hope you find it helpful in your journey of life! 🙂
      Feel free to check out my other blogs for more encouragement and light!
      Let your sunshine shine,

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