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College life requires a certain level of juggling. Along with rigorous academics comes a social life, personal responsibility, and extracurriculars. Sometimes it feels like all of these balls keep getting heavier and harder to throw, demanding clear organization and set priorities. For some, athletics is yet another object to throw into the mix! Since I'm not an athlete myself, I asked one of my good friends on the tennis team to give me the rundown on what being a student athlete is like. 

I met Alex, a freshman from England, through a couple of friends I met during orientation week. We first bonded over silly notebook doodles before he invited me to one of his tennis matches. I had never witnessed a college tennis match, but found myself incredibly invested in the experience after an hour. A fast paced and intense game, I wondered how much time he had to put in outside of class to get that good! After interviewing him, I found that the answer is simply "a lot." 

Alex has practice every day of the week paired with team lifts and weekend matches. Because of this significant time commitment, he has found that he needs to pay more attention to the balance of his schedule. For example, he missed 3 days of school during winter term and around 10 during the fall. This necessitated constant communication with his professors to manage midterm dates, class material, and homework submissions. He also had to amend his study schedule given all of his lack of weekend availability. Instead of saving his work for a Sunday, he has to spread it out over the course of the week and make sure he doesn't get overwhelmed. 

Alex also lamented his lack of ability to join school clubs. Though I know some student athletes who are still able to commit themselves to other extracurriculars, it ended up being a bit too much to juggle for Alex. He has a deep interest in sports analytics, but is looking for other ways to implement that passion into his day to day life that doesn't involve weekly meetings. 

The number one thing that Alex loves most about pursuing tennis at Dartmouth is the team camaraderie he receives. He finds that he has a lot in common with the 9 other guys on his team and since they spend so much time together, he never feels like he lacks social interaction. The team has gotten incredibly close over the course of the last two terms and he looks forward to spending the next few years with them!

Though a huge time commitment and change of lifestyle, being a student athlete at Dartmouth can bring an incomparable team dynamic and sense of community.

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