Senior forward Matt Braun of the St. Mary's College of Maryland men's soccer team discusses his experiences as a Seahawk student-athlete as part of NCAA Division Week.
Flash back to 2010. I was not even sure I wanted to play soccer anymore. I had quit playing all together my junior year and was pretty certain I lost my passion for the game. Now, as a senior on the St. Mary's men's soccer team, I can look back and honestly say that deciding to become a Seahawk student-athlete was by far one of the greatest decisions of my life. I started to get the itch to play again so my grandfather, who has always supported me playing soccer, simply asked me,"Why not try?" That is exactly what I did. While going through the college application process, I had to visit St. Mary's only once before I knew this was where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life. I applied early decision and by November of my senior year, I knew I was going to be moving down to Southern Maryland.
As any current student or alumni knows, the St. Mary's campus is one of a kind. Being a student-athlete requires a lot of commitment. During the season, an average day consists of going to class in the morning and then having enough energy to perform in practice every afternoon. On top of trying to keep up with the work load that comes with being a college student, student-athletes have to take into consideration practice time, travel time, games, and other team activities. Now, many people might think that a four-hour bus ride might be the perfect time to try to get work done, but in reality, the atmosphere after a game makes it nearly impossible to concentrate on your studies. Win or lose, sitting on a crowded bus does not make me want to study for the exam that I have at 8:00 a.m. the next morning. Being a student-athlete has not only forced me to be more organized with my time, but also has forced me to be accountable to my responsibilities. During the season, there is really no time to procrastinate so that forced me to either get my work done in a timely manner or stress about not having enough time.
Entering college, I did not know what to expect. Moving away from home as an 18 year old brings challenges to every college student, but I firmly believe that being a student-athlete helped with the transition. Just as with any athletic team, I have formed relationships with countless players. We may not all come from the same place, or share the same interests, but at the end of the day, they and I both know that we would do anything for each other – from doing sprints at 6:00 a.m. to practicing 3 times a day in August to helping each other in and out of the classroom and even painting our faces for basketball games. The relationships I have formed through athletics will last a life time. Being a student-athlete does not define me, but instead has helped me grow into the person I want to be. As my time on this beautiful campus comes to an end, I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity to be a student-athlete and I am proud to be a Seahawk.