The Grambling State baseball program has just begun to hit full steam in their pursuit towards a Southwestern Athletic Conference title this year.
The first two weeks back on campus for the team have been devoted to conditioning, lifting and small individual activities specific to positional groups.
The life of a student athlete can be challenging according to Antoine Valerio, a transfer redshirt freshman who will be pitching for the Tigers this upcoming year.
“Our days are jam packed just to ensure our safety, between different clearances, class and practice, I barely have any time for homework as well as time to myself,” Valerio said. “Lately I have been getting about five hours of sleep with all the homework I have to do and calling my mom for about 20 minutes every night after all of my day activities.”
As a successful student athlete Valerio is forced to pack a lot into one day.
“Three days a week we start our day with a 5:30 a.m. lift that goes on for about an hour, we then get about an hour and a half break to get showered and get some breakfast, and then I go into my four hours of classes from 8-12,” he said. “I take about a two hour nap to then go to practice from 2 to 5:30 p.m., which then gets ended with about an hour of conditioning. I then go get cleared with a Covid test, so I can perform in team activities the next day which takes about an hour. By the time I am done with all this it is about nine o’clock and I do homework until I fall asleep at around 12. It's definitely grueling.”
Considering that Covid infections have been increasing Valerio said team activities slow down if a player tests positive for the virus.
“A few guys have caught it, making it so that we have limited team activities,” Valerio said. “This frees up a bit of our schedule but makes it so that more testing becomes imminent. It’s also annoying because we need to be getting better as a team. The season is less than a month away, and we have a lot to learn before we take the field for our first game in New Orleans.”
Considering the circumstances Valerio said he is holding up well.
“I’d like to think I’m mentally tough so I haven’t let it phase me too much, but there are some guys who it has taken a big toll on,” he said. “Guys are beginning to lose a bit of hope that things will turn back to normal and are getting annoyed with the cycle we’ve had to go through, which becomes very tedious. I just hope that we will come together to get through this and have a productive season.”