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Advice to an Athlete

As the college semester begins, thousands of athletes return to juggling their sports, school, and personal lives. Here at Alston for Athletes, we have a team that spans various experiences – athletes, students, both retired, and active. With such a broad range of know-how, we'd like to take a moment to offer advice to incoming or current college athletes.

Casey Rudzinski, Research Coordinator

Basketball and Postdoctoral Fellow

Be your authentic self, follow your passion, and build sustainable relationships that have value beyond job titles, social status, or geographic location.

Also.. Ask questions. Find mentors. Be a role model for members of your community. You have a lot to offer the world in more ways than you have yet to experience!

Marcus Alston, Founder, Executive Director

Saint Francis U Football

You have time to figure out what you want to do in life, there should be less pressure to have everything figured out!

Zariah Smith, Programs Coordinator

Soccer Fort Hays State University, and Accessibility Counselor

My advice would be to make the most out of every moment and opportunity! One day there will be life after sports and it goes quicker than you might realize but it will always be part of you. As you know, being an athlete comes with a lot pressure, responsibility, and learning to balance everything can be a challenge…especially in seasons of adversity, challenge yourself to find the positive and how you can grow from any and all circumstances. As a former athlete, know that it is okay to ask for help and it doesn’t make you weak…there is strength to be found in our weaknesses!

Taryn Faull, Social Media Coordinator

Softball, Cal Lutheran '22

I would advise to be present and appreciate the little things because those turn out to be some of the big things that you miss when your playing days are over. Cherish the singing on bus rides, the team dinners in hotel rooms, and the random chats while cleaning up after practice because it's those little moments with your teammates that you will miss when you're no longer with them every day.

Natalie Morse, Executive Assistant

Swimming, Wagner College and Swim Coach

Do not take the process of being a college athlete for granted; but do not let the process of being a college athlete take you for granted either. Continue to be yourself, work hard, and everything will work itself out.

Lisa Devine, Policy & Advocacy Coordinator

Mother, of XC and Track runner and Mental Health Counselor & Marketing Director

Remember to give yourself grace! You've proven how hard you work and how that work pays off. Remember to pause, breathe, rest, and connect to yourself and others. This will give your mind and heart the support they need to carry your physical body through your workouts and competitions.

Cherokee Washington, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Research Director

Volleyball, 2017 (Whitman College, Wingate University), and Cultural Competency Consultant, Sport Researcher

My advice to college athletes is learn how to speak up for yourself. One of the hardest things about being a collegiate athlete is the balance between trusting your gut, speaking your truth, and respecting your coaching staff's leadership. Sometimes, we're not in alignment with certain aspects of a coach's philosophy, our institution's values, and even the sociopolitical issues going on in the world around us, but we're told to just "shut up and dribble" or adhere to specific principles as athletes. While we of course have a duty as athletes to uphold our program's values and missions, we're still human beings with opinions, feelings, emotions, and needs.

We're allowed to respectfully converse with a coach to find a middle ground in the way they communicate with us if it feels uncomfortable. We're allowed to speak out truths on things that affect us outside of sports like race and gender politics. We're allowed to call our institutions out on their upholding of certain values when they fail to do so and protect their students.

Learning this lesson was one of the hardest things I've ever done as an athlete and I wish I'd had the courage to do it earlier in my career. Respectfully speaking up is ok and more often than not, it's necessary for your well-being and mental health as a student-athlete, especially those of us who carry the expectations and other things that come along with being athletes from marginalized backgrounds. Trust your gut, trust your voice, trust yourself. It's the greatest gift you could give yourself.

Kyle Simmonds, Podcast Coordinator

Saint Francis University ‘22 football, Graduate assistant of creative video and broadcasting

Don’t be afraid to be open. Communication is such a key point of success on any team but the upper-classmen have been in your shoes. Coaches want your feedback and want to know how you're doing or if you need help and any good coach should be willing to help you get that help whether it’s in the class or even just a sit-down talk. These conversations will grow roots deeper than you can imagine creating relationships and bonds that can last a lifetime.

Kendall Katusak, Director of Social Media

Austin College Water Polo, Class of '22 and Social Media Manager

Communication is key. Don't be afraid to sit down and speak to your coach and teammates about things, whether is technique, mental health, or even academics. Finding a perspective beyond your own can only help you in the long run. Learn from everyone you can and that skill will help you even after sports.

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