What would you like to become when you grow up? It’s a question that most of us have been asked by family members, friends, and teachers. One of the most common responses: athlete. Growing up, three out of four American families with school-aged children have at least one child playing an organized sport. That translates to roughly 45 million kids nationwide. But by the end of high school, reality sets in. Illusions of professional athletic careers fade. Very few athletes continue on at the college level.
Those that do find themselves student-athletes — at least on Northeastern’s campus — can boast several perks: scholarships, playing the sport you love, being recognized on campus, sometimes even bypassing the Rebecca’s sandwich-line. What many tend to forget, though, is all of the responsibility that goes along with this college athletics experience.
College Town sat down with freshman defender Mikenna McManus on the Northeastern women’s soccer team to talk about the pressure and pros of her position.
Wake up call for McManus. Time to get ready for the day. Before class, she usually has breakfast before heading to her first class of the day.
Start of classes, on most weekdays this means Sociology for McManus. Although she came to Northeastern as an undeclared student, a few weeks in have already helped her to narrow down her major options: criminal justice or pre-med. “These are the two fields I’m most interested in and it complements itself well with being an athlete.”
McManus hopes to have pinpointed which one she will be pursuing by the time coop comes around. “For my first co-op I would like to stay in Boston and since our season is off in the spring semester, there wouldn’t be any conflict with any games.” McManus doesn’t see herself pursuing a professional career in soccer, in part due to the low chances of becoming a professional as well as the low pay.
Once classes are done for the day, McManus has roughly 1 hour before her team workout or “lift” begins. She usually takes that time to grab a bite to eat on campus and change into her workout outfit.
Since Northeastern’s soccer teams training and game facilities are located in Brookline, McManus and her team get shuttled over there and depending on traffic, it can take up to 30 minutes.
Depending on the day, practice usually lasts roughly 90 minutes.
Once back on campus, McManus takes a shower before heading over to Northeastern’s Student-Athlete Support Services (SASS). If she managed to squeeze in an hour earlier in the day, she sometimes just stays at home and works from there, “which usually results in me falling asleep on my bed.” She, therefore, prefers to work there because it makes her sit down and study.
One of the biggest challenges McManus has had to face since starting in August is getting work done while traveling on weekends. “It’s difficult, especially when we are flying and the Internet isn’t working,” she said. “For the most part, I try to do my work on the bus or on the plane, despite the inconvenience. Our coaches also try to give us study hours before and after practice at the hotel.”
At last McManus has a little free time to have dinner and hang out with friends. Depending on how much work she was able to do during the day she usually still has some homework left before going to bed.
Despite the very demanding schedule and pressure that McManus deals with on a daily basis, she would never want to give it up: “The majority of my closest friends are on the soccer team anyway so they are going through the same thing.” In the end, it’s simple; “I am doing what I love.”