6:00 am. It is time to wake up for the women’s tennis team who have to be ready for conditioning at 6:30 am. Who said it was early? Not Julia Wartenburger, a Junior who admits with a smile: “Sometimes it’s tough to have to get up at that time, but some teams like the women’s golf team have to wake up much earlier so I don’t complain”.
For about an hour, the women from the tennis team run, lift weights and do other exercises to be ready and strong physically. Any athlete knows that being in good shape is one of the most important keys to being an effective player.
Practice starts at 12:30 pm, so most girls have a class around 8:30 am or 10:30 am. Then, they head toward either the Lone Mountain or the Golden Gate Park tennis courts. For about wo hours, the women’s tennis team works on their different shots, strengthens their weaknesses, improves their skills and plays practice games.
Those who have class right after have to rush, as junior Cecilia Gratian explains it: “Last semester, I had to run from the court to my room, take a shower, get dressed and be in class on time. It was such a rush that I was used to have lunch before practicing.”
The rest of the afternoon, the girls have classes, usually with a majority of non-student athletes. “When we’re not practicing, we’re just like other students,” says Andrea Gaitan, sophomore.
Student athletes have to choose their classes according to their practice time; however, if there is a schedule issue that cannot be solved, the coach may change the practice time to make it easier and more convenient for everyone.
After class, each girl makes her own plans: doing homework, seeing friends, watching T.V., or having dinner in town.
Homework is part of the plans every time for everyone. “Conditioning and practice take a lot of time, so we have to be serious about school. But it’s okay because we are used to playing tennis and studying.We know how to manage stress and time,” asserts Jenni Heinser, senior and captain of the team.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association established that one week prior to the start of finals, institutions must cease practice. From the end of the season to that point one week before finals, student athletes cannot practice more than eight hours per week. This permits athletes more free time to study and relax.
It may look like student athletes’ lives are rigid, but they are not. When they are not representing USF colors in competitions during weekends, they explore the city, relax and party with their friends. If they do have games, it means that they travel within California or to Oregon or Nevada. They see different places, meet other people and get new experiences and memories.
Being committed to their sport and their studies while having fun at the same time: that is the philosophy of student athletes.