A day in the life of a CU athlete brings academics as well as basketball
Some people think the life of a college athlete is one big party.
Shadowing freshman guard Kal Bay for the Buffs’ game against Kansas on Feb. 14 shows how exhausting being a college athlete is. From classes, to tutors, to team shootaround, to tip-off, to post game, playing a college sport is not as easy as it seems.
Free Nike apparel, covered educational costs and free trips around the country are certainly nice perks, but being a Division I basketball player is not all fun and games.
Bay came to Colorado after a storied prep career at Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, Ariz. As a senior, Bay was third in the state in scoring, averaging 23.5 points, and first in assists with 7.6 per game.
A four-year starter, Bay holds Arizona’s high school single-game assist record with 15 and was selected first-team all-state, all-conference and all-city as a junior.
He currently leads the Buffs in 3-point accuracy at 37 percent and averages 6.8 points per contest.
Bay keeps busy trying to develop his skills on the basketball court, but his daily life involves much more than just putting the ball in the hoop.
An average day during the season for Bay involves waking up early and getting to class right away. After class, he heads to meetings with his tutors to focus on schoolwork.
Bay is currently a freshman open-option major, but said he is leaning towards sociology as his field of study.
A common assumption of scholarship athletes is all they have to do their sport and the rest will take care of itself. Bay said this is not the case.
“Even on game days, we actually go to class,” said Bay. “Coach Patton is really big on going to class and not missing for any reason. We don’t miss class for anything, really.”
Following a full academic day, Bay walks to the Coors Events Center for team practice from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Bay, like any freshman, had his ups and downs making the transition from the high school to college. Adjusting to a new lifestyle and college basketball simultaneously is not an easy transition, and Bay realizes the difficulty.
“I would say the biggest difference between high school ball and college is the physicality of it,” Bay said. “In college, guys are a lot bigger and the game moves way faster.
Three games ago, Bay tied career highs with five 3-pointers and 21 points, helping the Buffs to an upset victory over then No. 12 Oklahoma State Cowboys in Boulder.
The breakout performance could be credited to Bay’s work ethic.
“Every night after practice, I usually head back over to the gym around 9 to get another hour of shooting and ball handling in by myself,” Bay said.
The team’s game day schedule is a little different then their typical day. Bay goes to the arena 6 hours before game time for an hour shootaround with teammates.
After shootaround, the team goes upstairs for a half hour pre-game meal. The team is then dismissed and Bay usually chooses to head back to his dorm room.
He has to be back in the locker room, fully dressed and ready to go an hour and a half before game time.
Road game preparation is a bit different.
“For road games, we fly out the day before,” Bay said. “If we have a game on Saturday, we fly out Friday morning and get to the hotel.”
Bay said the team gets a couple hours to hang out the first day, before getting the Friday workout in at the opposing team’s gym.
The team practices the morning before the game and flies home right after.
This year’s team is freshman-laden. Eight out of the 13 roster spots belong to first year guys.
The team is learning how to play together as a unit and compete in the Big 12.
Aside from Bay having the best individual performance in his college career, the win against Oklahoma State was a step in the right direction for the entire team.
“Against Oklahoma State, we played better together. Even when they made their run and we made a few turnovers, we continued to work together and didn’t get down on one another like we have in the past,” Bay said. “We let coach do the criticism and us players kept each other motivated and stayed together the entire time.”
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Ben Dignan at firstname.lastname@example.org.