Student-athletes juggle mental health, studies and more – The Spectator
Student-athletes may face extreme pressure due to a mental health issue as they seek to balance their athletic schedule, their studies, and their lives. Seattle University athletes face adversity on and off the field as they juggle their commitments.
Many Seattle U student-athletes are exhausted from their very demanding schedules. Young people between the ages of 18 and 21 are still looking to live on their own in college, while graduating and attending daily practices. They face constant pressure to perform at their best and attract perpetual criticism if they fail to do so.
Grant Balcersophomore marketing student and goaltender for the men’s soccer team, shared the challenges he faces in his daily life.
“The challenge I face is to get up and have motivation every day,” Balcer said. “I wake up with bad days and I wake up with good days. Adding school work on top of that and going to class or having a bad quiz grade adds up.
Student-athletes have a higher risk of develop eating disorders or substance abuse than their non-student-athlete counterparts. However, athletes are considered by many in college to be healthy and happy due to their high physical activity. In addition, the public sees the athletes in an admirable light. However, this does not reflect the athletes’ personal struggles.
Viktor Rajkovicsophomore computer science student and forward on the men’s basketball team, discussed how he deals with his mental health as a student-athlete.
“I think it’s very important to have balance and stay organized,” Rajkovic said. There are times when I feel like all my energy is going to my sport, despite the fact that I need it for all the other things going on in my life like school, hobbies, family and friends. Anytime I feel like I’m not as organized or disciplined as it is with school work, workouts, or even sleep, I feel like it can get overwhelming really quickly.
Although sports psychologists have been a huge help for mental health, universities have been called upon by athletes to do more because this issue has only evolved and become more prevalent in recent years.
According to many student-athletes, there are not enough “training models” and sport-specific psychological training programs. Another issue is the enormous importance and perceived importance of athletes be tough and efficient.
“A stressor from time to time is the pressure to perform well on the pitch,” Rajkovic said. “I love playing basketball and it’s something that amuses me, but there are times when it creates more stress than I would like.”
The stigma surrounding mental health can be unhealthy for student-athletes. When it comes to performance, there is a great emphasis and pressure to succeed.
“When I faced the worst of my mental health, it was November,” Balcer said. “I stayed at home and didn’t go to school for a month and a half. I also didn’t play soccer and focused on myself because I didn’t feel like the university had the resources to allow me to come back here and feel in a safe environment.
Seattle U student-athletes face and deal with mental health issues in many different and unique ways. Due to their participation in a popular sports conference, many sports at Seattle U must travel long distances to compete. This can be difficult for young adults who have a lot to do.
Angelina Spitzauer, a biology student and sophomore dancer, shared a problem that student-athletes have to deal with during their seasons.
“Athletes are just held to a higher standard, so the school really doesn’t realize the pressure they put on us,” Spitzauer said. “Most coaches understand and support us, but sometimes the teachers are tough on us about missing lessons for sporting events or being tired in class because we were at a game until maybe 10 a.m. Eve.”
As athletes continue to face mental health challenges, universities across the country continue to find ways to ensure they have the proper resources to reach them. A break is necessary for people who burn out and no longer find joy in the sport they love. Students come first and athletes come second, a fact that athletes and their support systems continue to work to reaffirm.