Posted On: 01/30/19 12:12 PM

Rylie Vaughn is a 2018 graduate of Wausau Newman Catholic High School where she had a decorated career as a setter and pin hitter, which included All-Conference, All-State, and MaxPreps Honors.  She played in the state tournament all four years of her career, helping the Cardinals to four Marawood Conference Championships and three Division 4 State Championships.  She went on to become a starting setter for Division 1 UW-Milwaukee.  She was kind enough to sit down and share her top 5 tips for being a college athlete after completing her first season.   

“Being a collegiate student-athlete can be extremely overwhelming, but knowing how to balance your time and energy can lighten the load. Here are my tips on how to not only survive, but thrive in your freshman year on and off the court.

  1. Take things one day at a time

When you get your first look at your schedule coming into the year, it makes your brain go in all different directions.  Between lifts, practices, team bonding events, practices, rehab, going to class, hours of homework every day, and meetings with staff and advisors, we are supposed to eat and sleep too??  And then do it again? For months?  It is okay. Breathe. Make a daily to-do list and stick to it, crossing off things as you go. This makes everything seem a lot easier to handle, especially if you give yourself credit for doing things like showering and remembering to drink water.  If you keep your life on a smaller scale, with modest goals throughout the day, you will have a sense of pride that you are one step closer to reaching a bigger goal – earning that A, or jumping that high.

  1. Make an effort to get to know people in your classes that aren’t athletes

Don’t get me wrong, your teammates will be your family.  Sometimes, however, it is nice to have somewhere to go when you need to separate yourself from that world. You can study with them, grab some coffee, and feel fresh and renewed when you return to your teammates and the world of collegiate athletics.

Photo Credit: Milwaukee Athletics
  1. Get ahead in the beginning

A college course load is much different than what you’ve probably dealt with in high school.  It requires hours of studying and homework outside of class every week. In the beginning of my first semester, I found it extremely helpful to get as ahead as possible, so when fallbacks occur, it is less painful to recover. Also, if you know the material from the beginning of the semester like the back of your hand, it will make it much easier to learn and retain new content and to study for exams. Write out in a calendar when everything is due throughout the semester and get as much done as possible as soon as possible so you’re ready for the first wave of midterms.

  1. Take care of yourself

I cannot stress this point enough. When you break it down, it is pretty simple: sleep at least 8 hours a night (especially during season), eat well-balanced meals, have healthy snacks in between, and drink at least half your weight in ounces of water. Personally, I chug water immediately when I wake up, as well as during and after workouts, I sip during class and meals, and then chug again at night before bed. Whenever any of these things are off, your body is spending its energy compensating for it, instead of furthering you physically and mentally. You will have your body for the rest of your life, so you better make sure you take care of it.

Photo Credit: Milwaukee Athletics
  1. Use your resources, and actually do the assigned readings

As a student-athlete, you have more than enough resources to find help if you need it. Not only are there people designated to help you with classes, such as staff and academic advisors, but there are also supplemental instruction sessions and tutors available for most courses. In high school, typically student-athletes are high achievers and never need any extra help or guidance, but please don’t be afraid to ask for it. Also, read the textbook!!! I never ever read anything in high school, but I soon learned that if I read the book before lectures, it made it a whole lot easier to lock in the concepts the professor was talking about. “