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The Life Of A Division I Softball Player During The Fall Semester

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(Photo courtesy of NCAA Softball)

You've probably seen the NCAA Softball Instagram stories that take onlookers through days in the lives of college softball student-athletes. In those boomerangs, short videos and photos, we get glimpses into the college softball experience, from both the student and athlete perspectives.

But, what are some concrete realities of life as a Division I softballer during the fall when the spring season is still a little ways off? How is the fall-season experience different from that of the spring semester when life is basically all softball, all the time?

Below are five common truths that Division I softball players around the country often face during the fall semester.

Soreness season

Fall is bulking season for softball student-athletes. During the spring season, there isn't a ton of time to train, since so much time is spent traveling and playing more than 50 games in a matter of just a few months. That means there's no time to waste in the fall to get strong and fit for the spring.

Some programs start their training at 6 a.m. most mornings, others do it in the middle of the day, but one thing is for sure, every Division I softball team gets after it in the weight room multiple times per week during the fall. With the need to lift weights also comes the need to stay properly conditioned. Thus, running is also a big part of the training experience in college softball.

As a result of such training, softball student-athletes often find themselves with inordinate amounts of soreness in the fall, especially when training first begins.

Homework galore

Many college softball players load up their academic schedules during the fall semester, in order to have lighter course loads in the spring when the season gets going. Most college softballers see this as a smart move, since their softball responsibilities are amplified in the spring and classes have to be missed because of travel and game obligations.

With an increased course load often comes a boatload of homework, studying and office hours. But, if you ask most college softball players, they'll say it's better to get the academic heavy lifting out of the way as much as possible in the fall when they have more time to get things done.

Playing time uncertainty

There's nothing better than being in the thick of things during the spring season and knowing your role on your team. During the fall, however, there are often a lot of unknown variables for softball student-athletes, as they are usually still competing for spots and playing time ahead of the start of the season.

As a result of such uncertainty, there can be a sense of discomfort and/or doubt for players who are fighting for spots in their respective lineups. This is all a part of the process in the fall, however, and has the potential to make softball student-athletes and their teams stronger when things matter most in the spring.

More time for fun things

Football games, day trips and nights spent with friends. These are just some of the aspects of the college experience that most students enjoy regularly during their four or five years as undergraduates. Oftentimes, softball student-athletes don't get to enjoy these college pastimes as frequently as non-athletes do because of their athletic responsibilities.

Before the spring season begins, though, there is typically more time for softball student-athletes to be normal college kids. And some downtime can certainly be good for college softball players, as they prepare their minds and bodies for the grind that is ahead of them in the spring.

Team bonding in full force

Some people within the college softball world would argue that championships are won in the fall, long before teams ever even go to battle together between the white lines during the spring season. That's because a great deal of team bonding often takes place in the fall in the form of training and practicing, through team dinners and activities done together or through a combination of on- and off-the-field pursuits.

Regardless of how a team's bonding occurs, it's an unavoidable part of the softball student-athlete experience simply because of the amount of time that teams spend together, both on and off the field. And when college softball teams come together, either in the fall or spring, it can truly be a beautiful thing.

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