Varsity athletes search for yin and yang between work and play
Playing sports in college can be both a blessing and a pain. Just ask Coleman Collins, Natalie Sherbak or Jose Cueto, three of Virginia Tech?s varsity athletes. Collins, a fourth-year student now studying health promotion, is a forward for the Hokies men?s basketball team. Sherbak, a junior marketing major, is a member of both the cross-country and track-and-field teams. Cueto plays right field for the baseball team and is a junior history major.
Collins has been playing basketball since he was six or seven years old. He sports the #33 jersey out on the court. A normal day for him involves a lot of time at the gym. ?I wake up and work out ? I?m always at the gym for at least four hours a day, not always [four hours] straight,? Collins said. He spends about 30 hours a week on basketball ? almost as many hours as working full-time.
Sherbak has been running since sixth grade. She runs the full year as a member of cross-country, indoor and outdoor track. A normal day for her involves potentially having morning running practices, classes, afternoon practice and homework. ?If you?re not really into running, then D1 running isn?t for you,? Sherbak said.
Cueto has been playing baseball since he was three. He started out on local parks and recreational teams, like tee-ball and coach-pitch teams. He?s jersey #25 and has been playing right field throughout college. ?I got moved from infield to outfield right before college started,? Cueto said.
Athletes have a job of balancing academics and athletics. This year, Collins? classes are all online, but in previous years, he missed a lot of classes because of basketball. ?We have 30 games, give or take, in a season,? Collins said. The games involve traveling, which of course means missing class.
Sherbak said the balance between running and academics isn?t too bad. ?We usually leave Friday and race Saturday,? she said. ?A lot of races are fairly close (4?5 hour driving range), like in North Carolina, at UVa or at William and Mary.?
Baseball has a demanding travel schedule. A regular season includes 56 games, not including tournaments and bids, which can have the team playing until July. ?We could have a home game Tuesday, an away game Wednesday, and leave Thursday night for a weekend series,? Cueto said. ?It?s really tough to keep a pace ? there?s a lot of distraction and a lot to get done.?
In addition to a demanding competitive schedule, athletes also have rigorous practice schedules. Most athletes have practice every day, sometimes twice a day. ?We practice five days a week off-season and six days a week in-season,? Collins said.
Many athletic teams also have weightlifting, either incorporated into practice, or separate, and either as a team or individually. Collins also said that he attends two-a-days for the first few days of preseason practice.