Locker room is hyped up, coaches and players are dancing around. Big time win, on the road at NC State after being down for most of the game. We, UVA, are now sitting atop the ACC.
It's 11:00PM or so by the time we all shower and leave the arena; 11:30 when we get to RDU, Raleigh-Durham's airport, and 12:30 when we touch down back home in Charlottesville.
30 minute bus ride back to the University, grab some quick food and, by 1:00, get back into the dorm room ready to knock out the homework for the next day.
7:00AM the following day comes early when the alarm goes off to get up for the 8:00AM. Keep in mind, athletes always have 8:00AM classes, you have to be able get to practice in the afternoon.
Class from 8:00-11:00, grab lunch and head over to the Arena around 1:00.
Luckily on this day I finished up class early which means, time for a quick nap before practice.
1:45 time to head to the training room to get ankles wrapped. Pre-Practice at 2:15, practice from 2:30-4:30, film session from 4:45-5:15 then straight to dinner where there's an hour break before mandatory study hall for 2 hours.
And this was after a big road win!
There's a general consensus that NCAA Athletes live a life of glitz, glamour and fame.
Let's be honest, for your Kevin Durants or Andrew Wiggins of the world that may be closer to being true. 6 months in college before declaring? Yeah, maybe the top .01% have things a little bit different.
For the 99% of college student-athletes who aren't going to play professionally; its four years of absolute grind on the hardwood and in the classroom.
Your typical "job" is 40 hours a week.
NCAA athletes spend, at least, 25 hours a week at the arena for practice, film breakdown, rehab,etc. -- Then, they're taking anywhere from 12-18 hours in the classroom AND an additional 12-15 hours per week studying outside of the classroom. -- This doesn't even include game days or cross-country flights for away games!
Doesn't take a math major to know student-athletes are putting in the Overtime!
By now you're probably asking what's the point of this email...
Well, it's two-fold.
1) Respect The Grind.
Coaches, players, trainers alike, respect the grind, time and dedication it takes from these student-athletes to strive for excellence on the court while pursuing their degrees in the classroom.
It's real work, it takes serious time and, whether you like a player or not, they deserve to be respected.
2) If You Aspire To Play Collegiately, Be Prepared.
This message isn't to scare you. This message is to tell you the truth. If you want to play college basketball you're going to have to work you butt off.
I'm sure you've seen the statistic of the small percentage of HS players who go on to play collegiately. It's not that a lot of players aren't good enough, a lot can't handle the extreme grind.
Here's what I know....
If you're reading this you're amongst the 1% when it comes to dedication. You are, daily, looking for ways to elevate your game and become a better player. That's tough and you deserve props for it.
Here's what I don't know...
Whether you're truly willing to do what it takes on the court and in the classroom to not only make it to the next level but to succeed when you get there.
That's for YOU to answer, that's for you to prove.
Now go get after it!