Feb. 13, 2012
CHICAGO - My heart drops six beats and my pupils contract spastically, as I am forced awake by a ding-donging in my inner ear. However, as I rub my eyes and look around the room, I still see my baby-faced teammate Dainis Berzins sleeping soundly in his bed. I could have sworn it was 6:30 already and time for our team weight training. I struggle to grab my phone to check the time. 3:30. Calming relief sets in my stomach when I realize that I still have a few more hours of solid sleep. I roll over in my bed and fall asleep. This process happens four or five more times throughout the night, each time my heart sends knife-like pain to my brain, forcing me awake. This is a common occurrence for all collegiate athletes when they are deathly frightened of missing lifting or practice. There is no medical term for this condition but I like to call It, "the-worst-mistake-you'll-ever-make....itis."
Our team is always grooving in the weight room. There is no shortage of energy, goofy antics, or blaring music at our team lifts. Our team loves to work out and "get yoked." We expend so much energy in the weight room at 7 in the morning that it feels like our day is over at 8 until we realize that we have a full day of class and practice left to go.
Class is always a struggle, as I sit in the front row, the true star of the class. My eyes roll to the back of my head as I feel myself nodding off. The exhaustion is setting in as I doodle away all of classes on my notebook. One thing that keeps me from visiting the Sandman is the fact that my coaches might be making rounds around classrooms, making sure we are doing our jobs as student-athletes.
After class, it's the home stretch: practice. I do all of my rehab and training needs before practice, and take a quick nap in the locker room to recharge my batteries. Practice is always the best time of the day, because it is the one time that we are able to let loose our pent up frustrations and stress of being college students. It is the one time where we can use our gifts and refine our skills. It is the few hours in our day in which the weight of the world is not on our shoulders. Inside the Gentile Arena, all that matters is volleyball.