Being a college athlete takes a higher level of discipline and focus than a high school athlete. The independence that comes with being a college student can often be overwhelming when balancing classes, social life, and planning for the future. Add preseason, practices, and games to the mix, and what you get is the typical life of a college athlete.
While it may seem foolish to attempt to balance all that college has to offer while playing a sport, these athletes can’t imagine life any other way.
Kyle Clements, of the men’s soccer team, decided to extend his athletic career because of the fact that sports are his stress reliever. Clements, who attended John Stark in the neighboring town of Weare, NH, said that compared to high school, the team size is larger and the level of competition has risen. “Everybody is bigger, faster, and stronger. The physicality is a lot more intense,” said Clements.
Fellow men’s soccer freshman Chris Morse shares the same feeling when it comes to the competitive level difference. “From my perspective,” shared Morse, “high school ball is a lot less competitive than college ball because of the talent, physical ability, and mental intensity.”
When asked what it felt like to be a freshman again, Morse said, “It is exactly how I remembered it.”
The same duties of picking up the cones, balls, and practice jerseys that were assigned to high school freshmen were also delegated to the college freshmen.
Members of the women’s soccer team, Kendall Keim and Jenna Gardyne, share the same sentiment towards being a college athlete.
“I honestly don’t know what I would do without playing soccer,” shared Keim.
She couldn’t imagine another four years of schooling minus the everyday grind of being an athlete and she also sees the rise in the level of competition, from high school to college, because, as Keim says, “you need to work harder for your position,” and, “there are more girls and more talent.”
While others have experienced the repeat of freshman life again as similar to their experience in high school, Gardyne took a different perspective.
“Being a freshman is nice I think, because as a freshman in high school I was really shy,” Gardyne said. She sees this opportunity as a way to redo her freshman experience, rather than to repeat the past.
While Fall Athletics is often associated with soccer and football, those aren’t the only competitive sports.
Another fellow freshman, Hailey Thibault, was more than excited to hear that NEC had a cross country team upon her arrival.
A resident of Colchester, Vermont who attended Colchester High School, Thibault says how she “loved running competitively in high school,” and wanted to keep doing it for as long as she could.
While the soccer players either saw an increase or no change in the size of their team, Thibault had a different experience: “There were about 50 kids running, overall, at my high school, and there’s about 15 here at NEC.”
Thibault also shared that while there are faster runners in college, there isn’t a real difference in the level of competition.
Just like academics, college athletes share similar and different experiences. Though at the end of the day, each athlete has chosen to add another four years of balancing another responsibility, simply for the love of his or her sport.