5 good reasons to play soccer at dawn: my experience as a first-year student-athlete

Soccer field drone overview

One of the very first things I was told about the soccer program at Bishop’s University was the practice slot. Even before I signed a letter of intent, senior players on the team made sure I knew that any commitment to Bishop’s was a commitment to 6:30 a.m. training sessions. I like to think of myself as a morning person and didn’t think I would mind an early wake-up call. Besides, I did it in high school, so how hard could it be? Big surprise: it was hard! That first week of 5 a.m. wake-ups hit like a brick. And that brick turned out to be a boomerang, week after week. But I eventually did get used to waking up at the crack of dawn, and I honestly grew to love it. I loved it so much that I’ve done it every single year I’ve been at Bishop’s. So, here are five very good reasons to embrace the early mornings that come with playing on a varsity team at B.U., especially in your first year!

Young woman in Bishop's soccer uniform from the back kicking the ball. Other players in red are further down the field.

#1. Make automatic friends  

Bishop’s is a small school, but people come from all over the place. Coming from a town seven hours away, I didn’t really know anyone else. While most people meet their friends during orientation week, coming in on a sports team, I met people with similar interests and values right away. I actually met my future roommates on the very first day of training camp! We bonded because we were on the same schedule and empathized with each other’s “extreme sleep deprivation” and soreness. I got advice from teammates in the same program on professors, courses, and my department as a whole. My team became (and still is) my support system. It made being far from home a lot easier.

#2. Get into a routine… Fast! 

I’m a person who needs structure and routine, and it can be easy to lose yourself in all of the new freedoms that living away from home has to offer. Playing on a sports team, I had no choice but to get into a routine fast. When you’re up at 5 a.m., you will definitely be tired by 10:30 a.m. Pulling all-nighters was no longer realistic, which meant I had to learn quickly how to schedule my life, block-by-block, to get everything done with enough time to relax at the end of the day. Balancing practices, travel, school, and a new social environment meant I couldn’t get as lost as I might have without a clear schedule. So, make a schedule.

#3. Post-practice Dewies 

Dewhurst dining hall will be your home outside of residence for most of your time in the dorms. It was the thing I looked forward to the most after two hours of soccer. Dewies breakfast is next-level good, but it can get busy fast and the last thing you want to do in the morning is wait ten minutes in a crepe line (no matter how badly you want those crepes).

Finishing practice at 8:30 a.m. meant that we dodged the morning-class breakfast crowd. This was a perk I only realized after we had a break from practice for the season, but it is one of the best parts of rising early.

#4. Develop super-sonic getting-ready speed 

Simple math question: how do you make an 8:30 a.m. class when you leave the field at 8:10 a.m.? I don’t have a perfect answer to this question, but I can tell you it’s doable. The twenty-minute quick change from the field to the classroom was a skill I never thought I would need, but it is something that I have mastered. Now, if I somehow miss my alarm, I can always get myself out the door in time.

#5. Coulter Field sunrises 

I will always remember the first time I saw the sun come up over Coulter Field during practice. There’s something about Coulter Field that makes the prettiest sunrises, so much so that our team has a ritual of annual sunrise team photos. The sky over the field isn’t just pretty in the mornings; I’ve seen some incredible sunsets, too! But nothing beats those sunrises. Best of all, those sunrises make for perfect ‘early morning’ Instagram stories, giving you every reason to let the rest of the world know you’re awake earlier than they are.

So there you have it: five good reasons to brave the 6:30 a.m. practices that often come with playing varsity soccer at Bishop’s. If the sky alone doesn’t sell you, the experiences and friends that come through sport will.

Joining a varsity team at Bishop’s University was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and if you ask almost any Gaiter athlete they would say the same. There is no community quite like that of Bishop’s athletics, whether we’re coming together on a packed Saturday night in Mitchell Gym or bringing that same energy on Coulter as the sun comes up. Truthfully, I would have woken up at 3 a.m. every day if it meant I would get the chance to play a sport at Bishop’s.

(However, if the football team ever wants to give us their afternoon field time, I’d be happy to trade.)

Learn more about athletics at Bishop’s on the Gaiters website.

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