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What it takes to be a Division I athlete

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Grenfell is a junior public relations and management double major and can be reached at carly.grenfell@drake.edu.

What does it take to be a Division I athlete? That is the direction I’m headed to today. But don’t get me wrong; I have it far from figured out. Two seasons in, one being injured, and I like to think I have somewhat of an idea. The journey is still in full force. Three more seasons to be played and I know the learning never stops.

I am definitely an avid believer in the expression “you learn something new everyday,” whether it is something broad in scope, like how to deal with a season ending injury, or merely understanding how to finish a lay-up. It can be anything, really. To my knowledge, drawing from my experience thus far, an athlete at this level must embody a variety of traits — the most important being passion, hard work and awareness.

Passion is where it all begins. It’s because you love the game that you are playing at this level. In all honesty, I have no idea how any person or athlete would last if they didn’t love their “job.” For most of us, it started at a young age. We finally decided to toss out co-ed soccer and take up a different activity. Maybe getting up shots in the driveway, having a catch with your dad in the backyard or going to the batting cages with friends is what sparked your interest. Regardless, the passion is what led you to the ultimate commitment -— one that you will pour your heart and soul into for the next four to five years. And when you love what you do, it is that much easier to do so.

Hard work is next on the list. To look at it in a different light, a Division I athlete is never satisfied. Even after having the best game of her life, she is back in the gym the next day. It is not uncommon for your opponents to know your strengths and weaknesses like the back of their hand. So what do you do? You add to your repertoire. An athlete that doesn’t make gains is pretty much useless for lack of better words. Someone that can be shut down regularly isn’t fully exploiting his or her talents. Obviously, it is unlikely to have many consecutive games where you are the best player on the floor. But that is the nature of athletics. We can’t be great all the time, but we can still put in the work. It is the act of not settling that sets apart the great, from the good.

Last but not least is awareness. Seems a little vague, I’m sure. By aware, I mean both aware of what is expected of them on the court or playing field, as well as off the court. A Division I athlete is aware of her opponents — knowing the scouting report verbatim. She is aware of the mistakes they make — taking every one and learning from them. She is aware of her expectations — believing it will lead her to the greatest part of athletics, a championship. She is aware of how she is seen in the public eye — being role models in every way they can. The list goes on and on, but hopefully you get the gist of it. A Division I athlete is ultimately aware and bought in to these few principles. While there is so much more to be said for how athletes set themselves up for success, passion, work ethic and awareness may be a large portion of that success.

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