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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Commentary: Families bond through sports

Madeleine Viceconte
Shun Brown (6) hugs his teammate Khalil Tate (14) after scoring a touchdown against Southern Utah during the game on Saturday, Sep 16 at Arizona Stadium.

The bond between student-athletes and family is sacred for more reasons than one. 

Some players participate in a sport to make their families proud, while others sacrifice normalcy for the chance to build a successful future. 

Those fortunate enough get to share unforgettable moments with their families at games and make up for lost time during winter and summer breaks. 

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Some players, though, find themselves farther from home than others, and sometimes it’s not possible for players with conflicting schedules to embrace loved ones. That’s why, for collegiate student-athletes, nothing is as special as family time.

When I was a freshman on the football team, my family couldn’t have played a bigger role. They regularly attended games and supported me throughout the year. 

I chose to accept a preferred walk-on offer coming out of high school because of my love for the game and desire to play at the highest level. 

Former Arizona football player Rob Kleifield (54) takes a pictures with his family after a game.  Kleifield's family has been instrumental in his on-going journey with the game of football.
Former Arizona football player Rob Kleifield (54) takes a pictures with his family after a game. Kleifield’s family has been instrumental in his on-going journey with the game of football.

I also wanted to continue to make my parents proud and set a good example for my younger brother. 

There’s no doubt in my mind that some form of family is instrumental to all student-athletes’ success. 

Playing a sport at a Division I school is challenging enough. 

Teams are comprised of the best athletes from surrounding areas and often lure talented players from across the country. Arizona, specifically, boasts premier student-athletes from all over the world. 

This competitive environment becomes even more evident when athletes are tasked with maintaining a high grade point average. 

Student-athletes that fail to meet certain standards fall further under the scrutiny of their coaches. 

This expectation creates a dynamic that holds each and every team member responsible for his or her success, both out on the field and in the classroom. 

As grueling as schoolwork and team activities can be, the mere thought of family is typically enough to motivate student-athletes to continue grinding. 

Everybody has a unique story, whether it be upbringing, prior accomplishments or future goals, but none of it would be possible without the loving care of family. 

Family can come in all shapes and sizes. Parents and siblings are the most obvious, but in some cases family doesn’t necessarily consist of just blood relatives. 

For some student-athletes, family is defined as the people that helped them get to where they are today. 

Former and current teammates and coaches can certainly qualify as family. Crying, celebrating, sweating and bleeding next to one another has an unspoken effect on individuals striving towards the same goal. 

During the academic school year, when student-athletes are immersed in the bulk of their classes and training programs, family serves as an outlet for stress and frustration. 

When the going gets tough, student-athletes find comfort confiding in those closest to them. 

Family can also serve as consistent motivation. 

Whether they’re present and capable of assisting in decision-making or are able to visit during periods of time off, family has the power to ignite work ethic beyond belief. 

In times of despair, family is always there. And when the time for celebration calls, family is the first to receive word. 

The majority of Division I athletic programs feature some form of year-round training. 

From basketball and football to swimming and golf, collegiate sports consume the lives of student-athletes from the moment they wake up at the crack of dawn, until they’ve finished with organized activities at night. 

Family’s role in all of this chaos cannot be overstated. 

It’s imperative for student-athletes to have solid support systems, and family tends to find a way to the center of it all. 

For Arizona’s student-athletes, Family Weekend will be as fun a time as ever. 

Players from each sport will eagerly await the arrival of their loved ones, and for those whose families cannot make the trip, the eventual reunion will become even more memorable. 

Student-athletes don’t always have it easy, but family makes the unrelenting process of playing collegiate sports more than worth it.

Follow Rob Kleifield on Twitter

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