Tuesday, August 5, 2014

10 Things I Hate About You (Pre-Season)

As many fall sports are beginning their pre-season this week, I'm remembering not so fondly how miserable I was during that month of August. Sure, your first game is around the corner and at least Spring and Summer workouts are finished, but there are a few parts of pre-season that to this day I still hate. From personal experience, pre-season is a time where you can find a reason to complain about absolutely anything, so just in case you may have forgotten anything, or you never experienced a pre-season, here is a glimpse of what its like.

10 Things I Hate About Pre-Season...

10. Icebaths. Besides the fact it's finally warm out so your hair isn't freezing on the walk (scoot) back to your place, but nothing says misery like an icebath. Hey, good practice body, way to make it through. Now for a treat lets submerge in freezing temperatures to encourage muscle spasms while being surrounded by not only your teammates, but countless of other teams' unhygienic individuals residue as a way to relax after practice. Not only that, its a solid extra 20 minutes its taking away from your between session nap time, and leads to dirtying up another change of clothes after practice or just embracing the wetness. Although they reap physical benefits, they are both mentally and emotionally tolling.

9. Soreness. Even with the ice baths, you are undoubtedly sore. Sure, lifting may not be as heavy as the off-season but you're using muscles that you haven't used in a while. 3 hours of workouts/practices over summer seem like a breeze to the long days of pre-season and physical testing. Your muscles never have time to heal, rather they accumulate soreness day after day after day, causing you to waddle around campus and having others questioning your free-time activities.

8. Freshman. Whether they are taking your spot or not even your position, they come in like deer in headlights, so naive to what a few years of college athletics will do to you. Their soul is fully intact and you aren't sure if you should be jealous or hate them. They don't understand how things work, ask too many questions, and are simply too eager to make friends.

7. Living Arrangements. Whether your coach puts you in a dorm, hotel, or you have to extend your lease, there is always some sort of drama about living arrangements. I still think fondly when the two 5'5'' sophomores I shared a hotel room with my freshman year both got the beds in the hotel and myself and my 6'1'' other freshman middle shared a broken pull-out couch that had a sheet for a blanket. Then when you think you've finally "made it" and are living off campus, jokes on you because someone has to drive to the hotel and pick up those freshman that don't have cars.

6. Coaches. Their expectations are high and they have to put on a good show for the freshman- the y walk the fine line between making sure the newcomers know they mean business, yet are still easier on them since they still get cut some slack. Although they may share with the school newspaper or local media that you are having "great practices" somehow the word g"reat" is far from the words being used to describe the team or individuals in any hudles or meetings..

5. Meetings. I wish I could group this into coaches but the fault is not squarely on their shoulders. If anything, this can be blamed once again on the newcomers, since in fact it is the same meeting you heard when you were a freshman. Only somehow it manages to get longer every single year. Or at practice, just when you think you've made it to freedom, you've stretched AND calculated the time you can be ice bathed, showered, and in bed at- nope, there is a meeting- and any hope of a relaxing evening are ruined yet again.

4.   Everything Bothers You. Whether you've had Purple Gatorade that whole week, or its much too sugary or wayyy watered down, it's never going to be right. Sure, you like most of your team, however the idea of mandatory meals together on your only break is enough to make you wish you packed a PB&J. The concept of new shirts and shoes is awesome- but the blisters that come along with it do not. Or what about practice facilities? Unless you are making the school money (which most don't) you're usually stuck in facilities lacking air conditioning or locker rooms. Maybe your coach can get a parking pass, or maybe you coughed up the $300 for a summer pass, these passes are often still in competition with all the other thousand athletes at the school and you're lucky to get a spot within a mile walk to your facility. Not to mention picture day that you have to not only brush your hair, but walk all over campus creating huge pit stains, and already aren't in the best mood because you have practice immediately following. You're already testy and all these little inconveniences really add up.

3. Preseason Rankings. If you're ranked you haven't done anything to deserve it, putting more pressure on the team and the coaches, taking things into overdrive; if you aren't on it, it just shows how far behind you are and how things need to be taken into overdrive. The true definition of a lose-lose situation and you will probably be running sprints for being on the list or not being on it.

2. Your Dating Life. As someone who has dated an athlete through pre-season and also been one.... surviving pre-season is probably a 100% indicator that you will have a successful marriage. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not leave you when you are constantly complaining, it does not turn down your requests for massages, it is not needy."

1. You're one month closer to your career being over.  Although I still have the occational nightmare about the sprint test, and my joints literally ache thinking about putting on the kneepads one last time for a pre-season, most of this "awful" list is what made for the best memories looking back. As I wake up to go to my 8-5 job, if given the opportunity I would re-live sharing that pull-out couch watching Law and Order SVU marathons during all of our free time with one of my teammates that is one of my best friends still today. Or fighting over the footies for the icebath, as we  would sing Beyonce to pass the time until the head trainer had to yell at us to quiet down or she'd add on extra time. The celebratory dinner for surviving pre-season with my boyfriend after a well deserved back massage wasn't so bad, and having coaches who are just as passionate and anxious as you are to get on the court made practices challenging but rewarding. Turns out you got along much better with the freshman than most of the other team, and at least you were all on the trenches together. It's a special environment and (luckily) only lasts a month, that only the elite few ever get a chance to experience. As another pre-season starts and I feel a little pit of jealousy in my stomach knowing there will be another team picture without me in it this year, I do have a bit of advice for friends and fellow athletes on how to survive- try your best to buckle down, stop complaining, and ask your coaches if the meetings can be for freshman only.