By ONYEMA UTTI
Special to the Sun-Gazette
When people think of the individuals who struggle the most in any university or college, their first automatic assumption is the student who's probably taking 18 credits per semester with a major in something like computer engineering, a minor in biology and no time for and extracurricular activities.
The problem these days is that no one gives thought to what a student athlete must go through in fulfilling the title of being a "student athlete."
The students who go through any struggles are the student athletes who actually take their school work and whatever sport they play seriously.
One thing I always tell people is commend the students who participated in a varsity sport at a college or university and obtained a degree, whether it be a liberal arts degree or an engineering degree for the simple fact that it isn't easy for a student to wake up at 5 in the morning every day to go through an extensive 2 or 3 hour practice then be ready for an hour long class at 9.
The maturity that it takes for an individual to push himself or "go hard" in every practice and be all he can be in the classroom must never go unnoticed and always should be praised.
Academic excellence is greatly preached to every student athlete who attends Mansfield University.
While being a part of the men's basketball team, keeping up with academics has not been the easiest thing to do. During the fall semester we lifted weights three or four times a week.
During those days, we also had individual workouts with our coaches and pickup games with the team.
Those were my longest days. My days started at 6 a.m. and ended around 7 or 8 p.m.
It may not sound difficult to the student who doesn't play any sports and has one or two jobs but from a student athlete's point of view, balancing our worn out bodies from weight lifting and playing sports, and headaches from being in class all day, is one of the hardest things an individual can do.
Some athletes have jobs on top of everything else. For example I work about 5 to 10 hours per week in the sports information office of my school.
I'm not taking away what non student athletes must go through on a daily basis. No one knows anybody else's struggle, but I'm trying to make the point that the life of a student athlete at the college level is not the easiest.
The mental, physical and sometimes emotional adversities that we athletes go through could make a person give up.
So when you come upon an individual who is pursuing a four year college degree, commend him for not just getting through the hardships that follow being a student athlete but commend him for not doing the easiest thing when times seemed unbearable, which is giving up.