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  • Melania Zilo

Inside the Life of a D1 Athlete: Nicole Whitaker Talks Stress, Balance and Faith

Updated: May 2, 2020

If you ever wondered what it’s like being a collegiate athlete, here’s a glance at what a typical day looks like for me: 9:30 am: Breakfast 10:30 am: Classes 1:10 pm: Lunch 1:30 pm: Rehab 2:00 pm: Practice 4:00 pm: Weightlifting session 5:00 pm: Recovery 6:00 pm Study Hall/Tutoring (mandatory 8hrs/week) Being a part of the Women’s Track and Field program at the University of Central Florida (UCF) can be busy and overwhelming. Finding a balance between your academics, athletics, and social life is an important factor in being a successful student-athlete. However, as the season progressed, I found this balance difficult to maintain. I began to lose sight of why I love throwing, and became consumed with trying to please everyone. This change in motivation led to frustration and stress, causing me to underperform in practice.

My coach and teammates began to recognize this ongoing change because it affected my energy levels and mentality. However, instead of ignoring it, they took the time to help me out. They helped me remember why I love the feeling of spinning a circular piece of metal/plastic in my hand, and they even reminded me of how great it feels to dominate a lift. Also, they told me that I needed to reflect more on the fact that this lifestyle is more than just accomplishments and accolades; it’s about the journey and all of its obstacles along the way. Nothing is better than a family that checks on you when you’re down.

Through these crazy times, I know I can count on my teammates and coaches because they all helped me regain my balance. Although we may not be on campus right now because of COVID-19, we continue to check on each other because being on a team is bigger than being a student-athlete. This team is my family, and I love all of them. Yes, I still struggle with stress, but that is all part of the journey and finding your balance. Aside from building a second family in Orlando, my faith is something else that helps me remain grounded. My faith continues to allow me to rest in the fact that God is in control, and He’s got me. Whether you’re an athlete, a student, a sister, or a mother, make sure you find your balance and your source of strength! Everyone’s story and struggles are different, but you are loved regardless Philippians 4:13.

Love always,

Nicole Whitaker


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