For Division I Athletes, Pressure is Constant

I have been a Division I athlete for three years so far, and one of the hardest parts of that is the amount of pressure that is being put on you.

It is impossible to escape the pressure that athletes have to deal with, especially athletes who are in a power conference like the Big East. For one thing our parents and family are expecting us to be on the court at all times and to never be taken out. A lot of people are ignorant about the system that goes on when playing sports in college. Parents have a tendency to believe that their child is the best at a certain position. This expectation weighs heavily on our thoughts.

Not playing in a game when our families are in the stands is probably one of the worst feelings an athlete experiences. It feels as though you are letting the ones you care about down.

Pressure also comes from maintaining the reputation of a particular program. If a program has been extremely successful, like St. John’s was in recent years, fans and alumni are expecting it to be the same for the following years. When you do not perform up to the expectations of the program and the coach, insecurities start to kick in. Our volleyball team experienced this for most of the season. We came in last place in the Big East this season, just three years after the last of three straight Big East Championships.

The pressure to maintain good grades is also very hard. Luckily I have never had this problem; however I see it all the time with my fellow athletes.

Just imagine, having to wake up at 5 a.m. and do workouts for two hours and then having class at 7:30 a.m.. All you want to do is sleep and your body is telling you to sleep but you know this is impossible.

If you see athletes sleeping in any of your classes it’s not because we are lazy, it is because we most likely had a very intense practice and were not able to nap before.

I personally believe that being an athlete is more difficult than having a full time job. People think that it is all fun and games. Yes, fun is involved, but if you are not meeting the expectations of your teammates, your family, the athletic department and your fans, pressure can get the best of you.

I have learned to deal with pressure extremely well. Being an athlete has taught me to just expect to be under a microscope by all who are watching and to be critiqued by everyone. The pressure that I have experienced while playing volleyball has allowed me to adapt more to other pressures in life. I have accepted the fact that I am basically a walking brand for the volleyball team.

Athletes in other sports must also accept the fact that they too are walking brands. Now that I am an athlete I am able to make deadlines, I am able to shut out outside pressures that affect me negatively, and I am able to keep my head up high no matter what happens because I know what I am doing is not easy.