Athletes look to more than love of the game for motivation

While all athletes have to find motivation, whether love of the game or money in many cases, college athletes have the added pressure of juggling not only their athletics but a full load of classes as well.

Add in jobs, studying and an outside life and the balancing act each student athlete must endure gets a bit more complicated. This delicate balance is one Cosumnes River College athletes are very familiar with.

“It’s hard to balance, but it all works out,” said sophomore men’s basketball forward David Straughter. “I come to class at 9 a.m. I get through my day and I’m done about 1:20 p.m. We have practice at 2:15 p.m. and that gets done around 4:30-ish, and then I go to work at 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.. Then I go home and do homework.”

Aside from a busy schedule, more athletes said that playing sports requires other sacrifices as well.

“Sometimes it’s difficult when I see my other friends going out and having fun and I have to say I can’t go because I have practice,” said Olivia Sowles, freshman middle hitter for the women’s volleyball team. “I keep playing despite this because when I look back on high school and college I’ll be able to say I did something productive and something I love and am good at and not just I went to parties and did teenager stuff.”

Straughter said that after awhile including practice into a typical school day becomes natural.

“It’s just a regular day until after basketball season when you don’t have practice,” Straughter said. “Like, okay now it’s going to feel a little awkward.”

In spite of the adjustments to their lifestyles that must be made, the athletes interviewed all said they continue to play because of their love for the game.

The idea of going to a four-year college and continuing to play motivates me completely.

— women's volleyball outside hitter Crystal Hernandez

Bonds made between the team and a sense of family that grows was one motivating factor that many spoke of, including sophomore softball first baseman Briana Cherry.

“The relationships, that’s really what’s kept me in it the longest. All my friends being on the team and being close to each other,” Cherry said.

Cherry said that she considers her teammates to be her sisters.

The drive to play at a four-year level was also said to be a motivating factor by many of the athletes.

“The idea of going to a four-year college and continuing to play motivates me completely,” said outside hitter for the women’s volleyball team Crystal Hernandez. “It will help me work hard and stay focused with sports and school.”

Straughter said a big motivation for his athleticism is to help pay for college.

“My motivation is to make things easier for my mom so she doesn’t have to pay for my school,” Straughter said. “And if I can do that through basketball, why not help her?”

Head coach for the women’s softball team, Kristy Schroeder, a former UCLA student athlete and graduate, said she has been playing softball herself since the second grade and coaching at various colleges for 19 years. This is Schroeder’s fourth year coaching at CRC.

Along with helping her players reach their full potential and possibly continuing on to the next level, Schroeder said she loves coaching because she is a “big proponent of the mental game.”

Schroeder said she has her own motivation when it comes to coaching at CRC.

“I have two children and my husband so I’m pretty busy with them,”  Schroeder said. “That’s actually why I decided to coach at this level. It worked better for my family life. It’s great because most of the games we play are local and there’s a few over-nighters. For the most part I can come home and tuck my kids in and be involved with them.”

In the end each athlete and coach has their own reasons to take on the balancing act required to be part of college sports. Whether it’s for financial, competitive, or even family oriented reasons, each has a different driving force to help push them forward.

To some like sophomore softball pitcher and third baseman Amanda Horbasch there is an even simpler reason.

“[Playing] is a motivation in itself,” Horbasch said.