8 Ways being a Student-Athlete has changed my life

Hey y’all! My name is Hayley Bingham, I grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas in a little town called Rockwall.  I started playing golf when I was 13 years old and realized right away it was going to take me far.  I played competitively and found myself in the position to play college golf so I started the process the summer after my junior year.  I went on countless visits and met with players and coaches all trying to get me to their school.  My last recruitment visit was to the University of Montana about three weeks before early signing.  It was my last chance to really find what I was looking for and I did.  Three weeks later I signed my National Letter of Intent and started calling myself a grizzly.

Throughout my four years of being a Griz, I found that being involved in a sport and trying to play at the next level takes courage and discipline. I had to make sacrifices when it came to friends, family, school and a social life. I found myself using my sport as an excuse to get out of going out with friends or taking 8AM classes, but I also realized that it was the reason I had missed out on a lot of things. This was only the beginning, my four years at UM taught me a lot of things about the kind of person I wanted to be, the kinds of people I wanted to surround myself with, and what hard work and dedication really got me.

So here are the 8 ways being a student-athlete has changed my life:

  1. They tell you that you are a “student-athlete” but often you will feel being an athlete comes before being a student.

On my visit and all throughout my collegiate career, all of my advisors and coaches stressed that I was a student before I was an athlete.  But there were times when I found myself having to pick one or the other just like everything else. At the end of the day, my time and energy went into my sport and everything that comes with being a student-athlete. This is just the way it goes, I had to find a way to balance school and golf.  I can remember always having to do homework after 36 hole days and wondering how any of the information stayed in my head.  To this day, I am still convinced that it didn’t!

  1. Sports in college is one of the hardest things you will ever do!

Becoming a college athlete was one of this best moments of my life but nothing had prepared me for the road I was starting down. 6 AM workouts, 4:30 AM wake up calls to make it to the airport, traveling all day long, waking up to compete and then waking up to compete again.  Doing all of these things while trying to stay up on school work and have a social life eventually starts to wear on your mindset and your body.  I remember thinking nothing could get worse than high school athletics but I was wrong.  It was a whole other ball game in college.

  1. Wanting to move on can be normal

A couple times during my four years I thought about quitting or transferring. Things do get hard and sometimes when it seems like nothing is going your way this can seem like the easy way out.  I had a coaching change after my freshman year and I thought about transferring but I was glad I stayed.  My sophomore year I got injured in the second tournament of the season, ultimately stepping in a hole breaking my foot.  I had a long recovery and got depressed and felt like I battled through it all on my own.  There were times during my injury that I thought about quitting but I was really glad I didn’t! After my junior year I had another coaching change and wondered what else could happen?  I was glad that I stayed for my senior year at UM because it was probably one of the best experiences of my life. So, I argue that anyone who is looking to step away or transfer should remember that they picked this university for a reason.  Yes, things do get hard and everyone goes through slumps during their time as a college athlete but preserver through and it will be worth it.

  1. You never take off that Uniform, everyone knows who you are

I believe that no matter where you go to school, if you are an athlete you are known.  I found this out very quickly once I got to UM.  I would go get dinner with some of my teammates and people would point at our poster and then point back at us.  It was so awkward but people knew who we were.  Even if they didn’t know us by name they recognized us and that made me think about the way that I carried myself.

 

  1. Professors will think you have dropped their class, you missed that much school

For me, I can think of many times where I would miss up to two weeks of classes at a time.  I can remember a specific time where I was in class one day and the professor didn’t call my name on the roll.  I remember thinking it was bizarre but just waited until after class to bring it up.  Once class was over, I went down to the professor and told her that she skipped me on the roll.  Her response to me was that she just assumed that I had dropped the class because I hadn’t been there in almost two weeks.  Everything got cleared up but it was one of the weirdest things that has ever happened to me.

  1. Your team is your family, so embrace it!

No matter what, my team will always be a part of me and I consider them to be family.  We went through so much together: wins, losses, losing and gaining teammates, losing and gaining coaches… the list goes on and on.  No matter what we were there for each other and because of that we have a bond that can never be broken.

 

  1. You will build some of the best relationships of your life

I have made some of the best friends from college golf.  We get to go to so many places and meet so many different people that I have met people from all over the world.  I am beyond thankful that college golf is the reason these people were brought into my life.  If I could give anyone advice, it would be to cherish these relationships and make the best of this experience.

  1. Once it’s over, it is over… there is no going back

College golf is over in the blink of an eye, it doesn’t always seem like it but it is.  If there is one thing I have realized, it is that you have to give it your all, all of the time.  Once you make that last putt on the last day of that tournament your collegiate career is over!  I didn’t completely realize this until after the conference tournament was over and I was on the plane back to Missoula, Montana for the last time.

At the end of the day, college golf is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done, but if I had to go back and change it I would do it all the same.  The experience was unlike anything I have ever been a part of and I will always cherish the memories I have made here.  Thank you UM and thank you to all of my family, friends, coaches and teammates who put up with my crazy self along the way.

 

~Hayley Bingham

Fun loving, golf playing, sweet tea drinking southern girl

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Calling Bullshit

Two professors from the University of Washington are teaching a class that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, should have to take during their college career.  The course is aptly named Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data.  Yes, it is an actual course offered for one credit.  They have published the syllabus and the reading material used in the course so that students at other universities can take advantage of the opportunity.

Follow this link to find out more:  http://callingbullshit.org

College: What Really Matters


img_1369Why are you here?

Everyone approaches college differently. Some people come to college for the social aspect, others for the academic enrichment, some for the life experience, and then there’s always a few folks who have no idea what they’re doing. Regardless of which category you fall into, there are plenty of decisions that must be made in order to shape your college experience.

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What is success?

I’ve noticed a pretty common theme over the course of my time at the University of Montana. There’s a constant stigma surrounding what success is as a college student. How many meetings you have a week, how many clubs you’re in, how many credits you’re taking, if you have an internship, blah blah blahhh, the list goes on forever! Basically, it’s a competition to see how busy everyone else is and you’re the winner if you get the least amount of sleep. And let me tell you, that’s not a fun game to be playing! The reality is though, if you want to get the most out of your college experience, there’s not a whole lot of time to block in for things like eating and sleeping, let alone time to yourself, especially for those students that want that 4.0 GPA.

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Does GPA really matter?

Basically, you have to make sacrifices in one area or another unless you want to be in school for 10 years, so it’s important to focus in on what matters. I’ve decided that through my experiences over the past two and a half years in school, GPA is most definitely not everything. I’ve had multiple internships and jobs throughout my college career in order to gain hands-on experience and gain on-the-job skills, and to be honest, my employers couldn’t care less about my GPA. And it’s not like my GPA is bad, or even below average, but it’s definitely not perfect!

When discussing GPA with business professionals and company owners, their responses have been shockingly consistent across the board: if you passed your classes and learned from them, GPA really doesn’t pull as much weight as one might think. Shocking, I know. To most employers your personality, interview and overall experience is what gets you a job, not a high GPA. A high grade point average is definitely a bonus and if you have it, you should flaunt it, but it’s not the end of the world if you can’t maintain an A average all 4 years.

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Focus on real life experiences.

Personally, I’ve chosen to use my time in college to involve myself in activities that will help me grow as a person and become a more well-rounded individual. Not only do these extracurricular activities look great on a resume, but more than anything, the experiences I’ve gained through my involvement will help me in an interview and with on-the-job situations.

I feel as though I’ve learned more through my membership and leadership roles in organizations such as student senate, my sorority, marketing clubs, internships,  and many others, than I possibly could have learned by solely sitting in a classroom. I can’t emphasize enough how beneficial these outside activities have been on both a personal and professional level. In order to take advantage of these leadership and developmental opportunities it is impossible for me to achieve a 4.0 while maintaining membership in these clubs and working two jobs. This is the sacrifice I’ve chosen to make. For those of you that can manage such a feat, more power to you! But personally, I feel that I’ve gained so much more by choosing to participate in as much as possible than I ever would have choosing to spend that time reading a text book.

This tactic definitely doesn’t work for every major or every job field, but if you think about it, a 4.0 only goes so far if you can’t communicate with people or understand how to effectively problem solve.

fullsizerenderFind your passion and do what makes you happy.

The point is, do what you’re passionate about. College is a time to explore and figure out what matters to you on a personal level. Don’t waste this opportunity by not going to class, but on the flip side, don’t waste it by choosing to study 24 hours a day either. Join clubs, find a fun job, hang out with new people, and just involve yourself. You get out of college what you choose to put into it, so take advantage of the opportunities presented to you.

Have fun and think about the things that truly benefit your future and make you happy.

I’d love to hear your feedback and opinions on the subject of GPA and extracurriculars. Comment below and share some stories about your college experience!

Lace Up: Anyone Can Be A Runner

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 2.51.02 PM The amount of times I have heard “I’m not a runner” or “I’m not built like a runner, therefore I can’t run” has really started to piss me off and honestly, whoever I walked by this weekend saying these things, thank you for the inspiration to prove you all wrong.

I’ll start by being completely candid, I am a bit biased to the whole physical activity hoorah. I grew up playing competitive soccer up until the day I left for college. I mean, yes, it’s a lot of running and disciplined conditioning, but I never had to run longer than 3-4 miles at a time in those 15 years of playing. I should also add that each of those miles had to be in 7 minutes or less (the struggle was totally real).

Once college started, all concepts of physical activity went out the window and I was now struggling to run 1 mile, on a Sunday, while trying not to gag over the smell of Captain Morgan and Fireball seeping through my pores. Cool.

Freshman year ended and those attractive 15 pounds needed to go (this isn’t where running saved my life, I just got cut off of my campus meal plan when I moved out of the dorms). Exercise became important again and I was back in shape but I still couldn’t run more than 2 agonizing miles, maybe 3 on a good day.

IMG_8584Come Junior year I accepted an offer for an internship in Seattle and decided I should find things to do that would let me see the city in a unique way. This is where running made my life great. I signed up for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Seattle, by myself. Turns out I wasn’t alone, a few of my friends had already signed up and planned on taking a road trip to run as well. Training became fun as we increased our distance by one mile each Sunday and spent the majority of our runs singing and talking in very breathy sentences. Come race day, 13.1 miles never seemed so doable.

To make a long story longer, I caught the running bug. Since my first half in Seattle, I have completed two more half marathons, improving my time each time.

The point of this was to show that anyone can lace up some shoes and hit the pavement. I can’t lie like some Pinterest post and say it’s as easy as that. Running is an investment in your time, your body, and your wallet. Ugly running shoes changed the way I felt about running. YOU MUST INVEST IN UGLY RUNNING SHOES. My GPS watch complimented my competitive drive by keeping my pace (so that I wasn’t trying to run 7 minute miles for 13.1 miles straight) and my running belt was crucial for holding my phone, keys and ID. Looking the part makes performing the part so much easier.

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 3.15.13 PMI’m not saying go sign up for five half marathons or to start out running 9 miles at a time. I challenge every one of you to start by going outside (weather is a horrible argument), plug in some pump-up tunes or grab a friend to distract you, and start off slow. If 1 mile is all you’ve got, then it’s one more mile than those sitting on the couch. Happy Running 🙂

*Serious about it? Comment below for more tips and help on joining a world wide community.