ACU men's basketball puts in work during summer heat
While most college students are enjoying summer vacation, Abilene Christian University basketball players are working, sweating, and bonding.
They chose a lifestyle not many college students would.
"It's a unique challenge, it's not for everybody," said ACU Basketball Head Coach Joe Golding, "Everybody thinks it's easy, it's not. These kids go up in the morning, they run, they shoot."
In a sense, a collegiate athlete's day is planned from the minute they wake up to their final study hall at the end of the day.
"Sometimes people don't understand the work and the sacrifice that these guys put in," added Golding.
The season might start in the late fall, but work is year-round. Rising junior Isaiah Tripp knows that all too well. While other friends are home celebrating holidays with family, Tripp is working with his team.
"Thanksgiving, college kids get to go home, we're here, we're working. Summer, college kids are home, we're here, we're working," Tripp said. "So you definitely give up a lot, but it's worth it."
Rising sophomore, Jaylen Franklin added that being a student and an athlete at ACU is a challenge too.
"The academia here is great, we're gone a lot as athletes with trips and stuff -- usually two weeks ahead -- but your teachers work with you on catching up," Franklin said. "It's hard, but it's worth it." Franklin laughed before continuing, "I love playing basketball, so I'll do it."
What makes being on a team worth it for Franklin and Tripp is their love for the game, and that continues through practices and the bond that the team has.
"It's important for any team, the closer the team is, the better that team is going to play. We definitely preach that," Golding said.
This is only the second summer that the ACU basketball team has practiced since joining the NCAA, and Tripp said he feels it's a game changer.
"This part of summer is very important for us, to get together early, get to know the coaches, get to know each other, get to know certain plays so in the fall we're not behind," Tripp said.
So whether it's in-season or out-of-season practices, the players say the endless hours are all worth it. Even though the players have fewer days to hang out or go to the movies with friends, they wouldn't trade the college athlete experience for anything.