A look into the challenges that come with playing Division 3 basketball and the temptations of quitting.
Have you ever started something and been tempted with the idea of quitting? If the answer is no, I'd ask you to think harder. Just kidding - but I’d definitely be impressed. Let’s chat specifically about quitting and college sports. Players decide to end their career for many reasons. The challenge? Sticking with it even on the days where you are feeling defeated if this is something you really want to do.
I started my freshman year of the basketball season with 6 others. By my senior year, I was the only one left. The next year we brought in 13 freshman and only 4 of them remained three years later.
Why? Because playing a college sport is hard and it can be easy to lose sight of why you started.
While playing any level of basketball beyond high school is a huge accomplishment, the 3 levels definitely have their differences. I am incredibly grateful for the experience that I had during my 4 years, but there is no sense is fluffing the reality of playing at the D3 level. Facilities are typically comparable to high school and the travel schedule is less than friendly. PB&J's were a typical pregame meal. Team issued gear needs to be fund-raised for or purchased by you. And you’re lucky if the gym has more than 30 fans in the stands. At the end of my basketball career, I was proud for sticking out the journey myself despite having teammates quit so often over the journey.
Basketball kept me humble, grounded, in shape, and surrounded by a great support system.
So what do you need to know before you venture into playing D3 basketball or any sport for that matter? These are my tips for sticking it out all your years if you’re committed to doing so.
Expect to Sacrifice
At any level, there will be tons of sacrifices that will need to be made; repetitively. Including sleep, energy, time, and social events you are going to wish you could be a part of. Instead of feeling bad for yourself, expect it, accept it and embrace it! Not everyone gets the chance to be a part of a team.
Be Patient in Your Role
A lot of players that decide to play in college were one of the best, if not the best player on their high school team. Going to play in college at a higher level can be a bit of a shock when you are surrounded by much greater talent. Discover your role, do it to the best of your ability and remember that respect will need to be earned all over again.
Don’t Get Discouraged
During my sophomore year one of my best friends on the team was in a car accident and suffered a terrible concussion. She ended up leaving the program due to the risks and rehab demanded after the event. It was as tough for me to lose a teammate, and it was for her to leave the program. Over the years I had many other girls I’d built a bond with, quit. It was crucial for me to remain grounded with my own personal goals and not let the choices of others affect my decisions.
This is Your Last Chance
For most players, especially at the D3 level, this is your last chance to play competitively for an organization. When it’s over there is no going back. Don’t let a tough week or even year in the program take your love of basketball away.
Remember Why You Started
It’s good to frequently remind yourself of why you love the game of basketball and what you would be missing out on if you stepped away. I’m a big advocate of Post-It notes in your locker area that remind you who you play for or motivational quotes that keep you going.
Did you know that only 3.1% of high school players will go on to play in college (about 1% at each level)? I don’t know about you, but there aren’t many things that I get to be the 3% of. The percentage drops significantly lower for high school players that play all four years of college basketball. At the end of it all, it will be a proud day to finish out your career strong.
Sometimes quitting is inevitable or a decision that you must make for the better of your health or family. Although, If the temptation to quit is heavily influenced by someone else, or it’s become an emotional decision - take the time to make sure this is what you want to do and the feelings aren’t temporary. Keep these 6 things in mind as you navigate your way through your college career to remain focused and driven.