Dealing with the pressure of being a student athlete.
By: Cara Spencer
Cara is a junior majoring in journalism at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at Ole Miss.
Hundreds of thousands of high school athletes dream of playing college sports, but few may realize what exactly they’re actually getting themselves into.
Director of Counseling Services at Ole Miss, Dr. Marc Showalter, says college athletes have an intense schedule.
“First of all they have a full time job between practice, study hall, team meetings and treatments, that’s a pretty hard job just doing that, in addition to maintaining in the classroom,” Showalter said.
And that’s not all. Defensive end Jason Jones has been playing Rebel football since 2009. He says most people don’t really think about how stressful it can be to always feel like you, as an individual, represent the university.
“Many pressures we face as athletes, is always doing the right things, when we’re not perfect as people, but we’re expected to be, and also when we’re put on an unrealistic pedestal.”
Jones says he and other athletes often deal with these pressures by sticking close with teammates and coaches.
“Building a relationship and family with the guys that you’re around, coaches and teammates are important,” said Jones.
In addition to team support, defensive back Cliff Coleman says he relies heavily on his spirituality.
“Me personally, I like to keep myself ground with God, and focus on what matters, I was given this opportunity that has opened so many doors for me and I want to do my best,” Coleman says.
For athletes that need it, Ole Miss also employs a professional sports psychologist who can help the athletes cope with their responsibilities and deal with their emotions.
Dr. Josie Nicholson, Ph.D. has studied the psychology of athletes for some time now and has found that many times athletes don’t ask for that support from counseling services.
Dr. Showalter agrees.
“More often than not, athletes won’t ask for help when they need it, asking for help with emotions is a sign of weakness to them, they are supposed to always be strong in their minds.”
Jones, a veteran college athlete, has this advice to rookies who will soon have to handle the new responsibilities of being a Rebel.
“Guys, focus on building and keeping the relationships amongst the team, there will be fans everywhere you go, in the Union, in class or Wal-Mart. The best advice I can give to you is to just be smart and make good decisions.”