An Honest Reflection of Life As A Student And Athlete
On this week’s post we are joined by our very special guest, Garrard & Flack Australia Player Matilda Lugg. We are really proud of our relationship with Matilda and extremely grateful to play a very minor role in supporting her cricketing career. Mailda is an exciting up and coming wicket keeper and batter and is a member of Cricket ACT. She is also a full-time Law student at The Australian National University (ANU) and has kindly offered a reflection on balancing her studies within the context of her life of a professional athlete.
Women’s cricket in Australia has gone in leaps and bounds in recent years, reaching the point where we can play professionally and be financially supported to study at the same time. However, with all amazing opportunities come challenges. Juggling the life of a full-time university student living on campus with the demands and expectations of being a professional athlete can be tricky.
Like any student, finding the motivation to open up my laptop and watch that mind-numbingly dull lecture can be a struggle. After an exhausting full day of training, being engrossed in the high-pressured, taxing environment that comes with professional sport, it can be seriously hard to find the energy and concentration. However, the windows of opportunity to study productively are narrow, especially when you have friends at college, who have finished their work for the day, knocking at your door to hang out. This temptation often involves the quintessential internal debate, with the devil and angel on each shoulder…
It takes a lot of mental and physical willpower to choose to maximise this study time when I can, and sacrificing sleep is just not an option which I have unfortunately learnt the hard way.
In saying this, one of the things I struggle with the most, is making the time to relax and switch off. It’s easy to mull over bad training sessions and feel guilty about opting to rest, watch Netflix or socialise with friends over study. However, this refuelling is crucial for enhancing performance as both a student and athlete and it’s something I am putting a lot more emphasis on.
Like most athletes, I am far too competitive for my own good at times and set high standards for myself with my results. It was daunting arriving at ANU, discovering the calibre of students here and how hard they work. I've had to learn to not compare myself to other students, particularly those who simply have more time on their hands, and to be content with not blitzing every assessment during a busy period of cricket.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty rubbish at all of this early on. However, having come unstuck a few times and with the help of the Meteors support staff, I’ve developed some strategies around some of these challenges. Namely, planning and scheduling months in advance, asking for help and not being ashamed about it, using mindfulness techniques to help compartmentalise and deal with stress and concentration, prioritising more important social events over others, and ultimately, stepping back and having perspective of the bigger picture when necessary. I am also fortunate enough to have exceptional resources available from the Australian Cricketers Association, Cricket ACT, who support the lives of their athletes outside of cricket, and Garrard & Flack Australia, and their strong pledge of support for the women’s game.
And while I say these things with some conviction, I am still very much learning to master the balancing act. I’m still waging the war against procrastination and grasping how to juggle relationships and daily life, with training and study commitments. When there is an assignment due at midnight and a full day of training ahead, I’ll snooze the alarm far too many times. I’ll have to turn to my ‘morning motivation’ playlist for inspiration, I’ll have four coffees throughout the day instead of one and I’ll often submit it at 11:59pm.
There are days when I feel out of my depth, like I am running an entirely different race to those around me. And with many balls in the air, as a wicketkeeper I am terrified of dropping one. But as Albert Einstein said “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Having these two separate aspects of my life helps me to be more productive in the other area and most importantly – it’s FUN. It's an enjoyable and busy time, giving me an awesome life balance that I am incredibly lucky to have.
For many women and girls across the world, undertaking tertiary education or playing sport at a professional level, are extremely difficult. To do both simultaneously, would not even be a possibility. Sport and education are two of the most empowering pursuits for girls. I am incredibly grateful to have grown up in an environment and family who values both, and for the many opportunities I have received.