Freshmen athletes adjust to college sports

Photo courtesy:
FAMU Athletics

Adjusting from a life in high school to the young adult responsibilities that college brings is a task that all first-year students must face. Being able to make that transition smoothly is vital to the success of a student.

Though this experience is shared by most freshmen on campus, student-athletes must adjust differently.

Florida A&M University is a Division I institution housing twelve different sports programs. With each roster filled with gifted athletes, only a few spots are saved for new freshmen.

Most athletes come from their previous schools with high hopes for their athletic careers. While many have promising athletic capabilities, navigating the differences between a career in high school and a career in college can be challenging without the proper support and guidance.

Neriah Lee, a freshman from Atlanta, Georgia, is part of the softball program at FAMU. She reflected on her first year on the hill and detailed her thought process before starting her first collegiate season.

“In high school, I felt like I was prepared for the next level due to the high level of competition I was already involved in,” said Lee. “Of course, in college, the girls are bigger and a little bit faster, but I knew coming in to play at the D1 level was something I was going to see often.”

Although the opportunity for playing time may seem scarce for some freshmen athletes, Lee has been able to see some action on the softball field this season.

When comparing her experiences, Lee said, “One big difference between high school and college ball is that the game goes by so quickly. During the games, runners get extra bases while I’m in the outfield trying to get the ball in. If you aren’t on your toes, you can blink and miss a crucial part of the game.”

A big part of making a successful transition as a freshman athlete is having the right people in your corner to guide you and help you along the way. These people could be family members, coaches, teammates, or guidance counselors.

“I have learned a lot in these past nine months transitioning from high school to college,” said Reagan Harris, a freshman tennis player from Greensboro, North Carolina. “The thing that has stuck with me the most is how important and integral everyone on the team is. Everyone works hard, and everyone is equally important.”

Pulling out eight singles-match victories in her premier collegiate season, Harris has proved to be on top of her game. Since starting her tennis career at only eight-years-old, Harris has seen thousands of matches. However, she claimed her collegiate opponents are some of the hardest she’s had to face.

“The level of competition is so high in college. Everybody has been competing for years.” said Harris. “My teammates and coaches have helped me adjust by being supportive on and off the court. Playing in high school, I never felt like I had the kind of support that I am getting now.”

Having support from coaches and teammates plays a huge role in the overall success of the player and the team. Unity amongst all of the players is an accomplishment for any athletic program.

William Shelton, a freshman track athlete from Atlanta, Georgia, has experienced first-hand how the camaraderie between all members of the team is important to having a successful season.

“Even though a lot of the events we are competing in individually, having supportive teammates and coaches is still a really important factor,’ said Shelton. “Transitioning from high school to college is not easy.” It is a completely different situation here. “Having that strong foundation within your coaching staff and your teammates is what makes it easier.”

As the Rattlers continue to work hard to finish the season strong, they will keep the support for one another going strong.

“The biggest lesson I have learned is that change is okay. Being able to move on to bigger and better things is always going to be scary at first, but it always works out,” said Lee. “I have also learned to stop taking things for granted and be in the moment because life moves fast, especially in college. Make every hit, catch, or throw count as if it is my last.”