Taylor’s Column: My Student-Athlete Experience

Campus editor, Taylor Anthony, at John Carroll’s track in Don Shula Stadium.

Lucia Cannata

Campus editor, Taylor Anthony, at John Carroll’s track in Don Shula Stadium.

Taylor Anthony, Campus Editor

In March of 2022, my Uncle Timothy Jackson published a book titled “Understanding College Athletics Through the Eyes of College Athletes.” He played basketball at Youngstown State University from 1987-1991 where he was later inducted into YSU’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006. 

My uncle says that he learned his greatest life lessons as a student-athlete and finds them to be still applicable to this day. I recently finished reading his book which is what inspired me to share my experiences and perspective as a student-athlete at the NCAA Division III level. 

College scholarship statistics state that about 7% of high school athletes continue playing a varsity sport in college. Whether it be NCAA Division I, II or III athletics, NAIA or JUCO, it truly is a great privilege to have the opportunity to compete at the collegiate level. The time commitment of athletics at any of these collegiate divisions requires great sacrifice, dedication, and structure during your college years. 

As a sprinter on the John Carroll Women’s Track & Field team, it is a year-round commitment from summer and fall training to the competition season in the spring. The work we put in during the off-season is what enables us to become faster and stronger athletes for when it is time to compete again. 

I mentioned in one of my earlier columns that I am a very Type-A person, and I live a very structured life. Whether it be classes, homework, practice, track meets, free time, sleep etc. I find a way to balance and manage it all. 

“By now you should understand that you will spend twelve to eighteen hours a week in class. Fifteen to twenty hours studying or completing homework, another forty or so hours practicing, playing or working out, and nearly fifty hours sleeping. There are 168 hours in a week.” 

During the fall semester, we train 4-5 days a week which consists of running workouts, strength training and recovery. This adds up to about 10-12 hours of training a week in the off season. Then, when indoor track and field starts in the winter and outdoor starts in the spring, there are 5-6 days of my week and 2-3 hours of my day dedicated to the sport. Practice through the week, compete on the weekends and repeat. 

Now that’s just what is going on from the athletic standpoint of my student-athlete perspective. I combine that practice schedule with classes, homework and my other extracurricular activities that I am involved in on campus. Yes, there are definitely times that I have felt like I am missing out on some things with my friends, but at the end of the day I remember the bigger picture. 

I remember my commitment to my team and I hold myself accountable. I think about how rewarding the results are that come from the sacrifices made and by the end of the season when we are finally running our fastest times, jumping our highest or throwing our furthest, it is all worth it. 

In my Uncle Tim’s book he says “We play collegiately because we love our sport. The sacrifices we make and all the things that we don’t get to participate in because of our sacrifices are made better by being able to compete with the people you love at a high level.” 

There’s always going to be disappointments, setbacks or other emotional, physical or mental hurdles that will be faced. Coming off an unprecedented year living through a pandemic, there have been so many unknowns and plenty of disappointments. Just like that, a pandemic took away everything that we had worked so hard for. Dealing with that on top of a somewhat recurring injury these past few years, really started to take a toll on my optimistic outlook on the sport. I even started to question if it was worth all the time I was putting in. However, it was in those moments that I reminded myself of my love for the sport and the goals I set out to achieve. 

Athletics is secondary to being a student first and foremost, especially at the Division III level where there is no monetary scholarship that helps to pay your way through college. I wanted to continue competing at the Division III level because I always wanted to ensure that academics remained the priority. I love the sport and I never wanted it to feel as if it was something I had to do but rather something that I wanted to do. When I was being recruited to run here at John Carroll, I genuinely felt that I was being seen as a STUDENT-athlete with so much more to offer than just my athleticism. 

As I look ahead to my senior year, I remind myself that the best is yet to come. Through all the highs and lows that track and field brings me, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. For most, these final four years in college will be the last time that we will competitively play our sport. It’s important to make the most of every practice, game, meet, team bonding, bus ride or team dinner because it really will be over before we know it.