A student-athlete's summer

A student-athlete’s summer

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So, what does the summer entail for a collegiate athlete?

Some of our readers may have been wondering why we have been quiet or not covered any meets recently. Put simply and to quote the words of the famous Alice Cooper song; ‘school’s out for the summer.’ The 2012/13 academic year finished in June, leaving an eight to ten week gap until the 2013/14 year starts in August. This break from the daily grind of being a student naturally coincides with the only significant gap in the collegiate track and field / cross country calendar. The question some may ask is therefore; what exactly do international student athletes do in the summer?

To outline the year as a whole, it is well known that the NCAA track and field / cross country calendar encompasses three distinct competition periods. These are:

  • January – March: Indoor track

  • March – June: Outdoor track

  • September – November: Cross Country

These nine months are action packed with fiercely fought championships and high quality invitational meets. Add to this the demands of studying for a degree, and it makes for a very busy lifestyle being a student athlete.

Below are some of the options that we experienced of what international student athletes get up to during the ‘dead months’ from June to August.

Continue competing

One obvious summer option for student athletes is to continue their outdoor season beyond the NCAA Championships and compete during July and August. Given the lack of open track and field meets in the US over the summer, this would most likely involve competing in meets in the UK or mainland Europe. This path is often pursued by athletes looking to make summer championships who may have to return to compete in a trial. Many sprinters and throwers typically continue competing into the summer, safe in the knowledge that they will have the autumn to recover. For endurance runners, road racing is one area where there are plenty of summer competition opportunities available in the US.

Return home

Being away from home for such a large portion of the year, many athletes will ensure that they are on the first available flight home once academic and athletic commitments are complete. What athletes get up to once home will be largely up to the individual, though will usually consist of catching up with friends and family. It is to be expected that communication will be maintained with the coaches, even if that just be a check in to see how training is going. Returning home is typically the most popular summer option for international student athletes.

Summer School

Student athletes can attend classes over the summer if they wish. This is actually fairly common for athletes who qualify for the NCAA Championships, given that the date of this meet is well beyond when regular term classes end. Summer classes are short but fairly intense, often covering the same amount of work of a regular term, but in a significantly shorter period. For athletes wishing to enjoy a low key summer on campus, this can be a very good option as long as they keep up with the class demands.

Working / Internship

It is possible to work in the US during the summer months. However, given the F1 visa regulations this will not be as straightforward as working a summer job in the UK. Employment opportunities are limited to either campus jobs or internship type roles that are directly relevant to the degree being studied. For more information on F1 working regulations, see here.

Travel

To state the obvious, the US is a big place. Many international students use the long summer to fit in some travel time and visit new places. Whether that be altitude training in Flagstaff, tanning in Miami, or driving along Route 66; there is lots to see and do. Summer travel also enables athletes to see more of places than just the typical hotel and track combination that they may be limited to during the school year.

Summary

As demonstrated above, there are a numerous different ways international student athletes can spend the summer months. Of course it is possible to combine one or more of the different options and this is often what will happen. We will finish by encouraging any current or former student athletes who may wish to share some summer tales to get in touch and share them with us.

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