Student-Athlete Stories (Interview)

Our latest installment of ‘Student Athlete Stories’ is with another UHart student-athlete, Christie Michals, a forward on the Women’s Basketball team. Christie was very descriptive, and her passion for informing future student-athletes is apparent.

As noted in our first #StudentAthleteStory post, these responses are perfect to be used as a guide and reference-point for high school athletes looking to take the proper steps to prepare themselves for college life as an NCAA student-athlete.

Athletically, what was the toughest part about making the transition from senior year of high school to freshman year of college? >> “Personally, my biggest athletic challenge when I got to college was how to take care of my body outside of team practices. The intensity of college athletics is more demanding than high school, you will find that almost anywhere. However, what many people do not know is how to properly take care of your body. This relates to eating healthy to fuel your body with proper nutrients, stretching, rehabbing, or understanding the changes that your body will experience as you transition into your college years.”

And what about academically? >> “Academically, the biggest challenge I experienced was to keep my focus directed in the right areas. Sports will take up much of your time, which outside of athletics, you need to understand personal methods that help achieve academic success. The focus is difficult because everyone has different approaches to schoolwork. Your academic tactics will differ from your teammates, and they will definitely differ from other students on campus that may not experience the same mental or physical extractions. Understanding that everyone has different work tactics, by location, time of day, or day of week- I had to find the best methods to bring me success in the classrooms.”
How did you select your college? Were you recruited? And if so, what was the recruiting process like for you?
>> “I committed to the University of Hartford based on the coaching staff, team culture, and the type of environment surrounding the team. I wanted to be coached by people who were knowledgeable, relentless, caring, and would push me to be better everyday, both athletically and in life. I had never met anyone like Coach Jennifer Rizzotti, but I was immediately amazed by the capacity as a coach and individual that she possessed. I also wanted to be part of a team that worked hard together towards a common goal, and had respectable work ethics. Lastly, I wanted to be a part of a sports department with a surrounding community that valued the importance of team and sports. All of this I found at Hartford, where I was recruited to at the beginning of my junior year of high school. My recruiting process was short because all of these measures were noticeably displayed on my very first recruiting visit to Hartford. I was lucky enough to find my match early, in which no other school was able to compete with the assets I found under the coaching staff of Coach Rizzotti.”

What did you do to prepare yourself the summer before you went off to college for the first time? >> “With my team, we have attended summer school for all four years of college. Being in summer school turned out to be one of the most beneficial occurrences. Not only did we get ahead on our courses for the school year, but we also got to meet teammates, coaches, and start workouts before the fall semester. Working with our strength coach as early as possible helped everyone adjust from high school to college. Being on campus early, before the rest of the University was back, helped me adjust to my surroundings and the location. Summer term, whether required or not for your team, can be very beneficial to help you catch up or lessen your course load for during the year, when you are busier being in season.”

In season, what was a daily routine for you? >> “While in season, the daily routine was more strenuous, but eventually became second nature as I could better manage my schedule of class, lifts, practices, homework, travel for games, eat, sleep, and its continuous cycle. In season, my days were busy and filled, as they revolved around going back and forth to the sports center, my dorm room, and classes. The best thing that I would remember when stressed out or overwhelmed, was to lean on my team for support, since we all were going through the same things.”

What, if any, academic aide was available to you? (Did you have team tutors, mandatory study halls, etc).
>> “For my team, as a freshman you were automatically placed into study hall for the first semester. After that, you could be removed from study hall by maintaining a high enough GPA that our coaches established for the team. Study hall was helpful in managing time while placing a distinct focus on being a student before you could be an athlete. When my team had away games, if we missed any days of class due to travel, we would have a scheduled team study hall at our hotel. Our athletic department had two part-time tutors available to student-athletes by request or suggestion from our athletic academic advisors. Our department also coordinated student tutors, where qualified athletes (if they received an A in a given course) could tutor other athletes.”

What tips do you have for students regarding time management? >> “For time management tips, I learned to always be prepared. I carried my backpack with me all the time, so any free time I found throughout the day I could get homework done. By being over prepared I learned to value and make the most of my time. I also learned to appreciate any off day we had to rest and recover, both physically and mentally.”

What advice do you have for high school students looking to play a sport in college? >> “My advice to any high school athlete that wishes to continue their careers in college would be to ask yourself if you are willing to push and be pushed to some of the most difficult, yet rewarding experiences that young adults can encounter. The amount of time commitment that is required will challenge your self-dedication both physically and mentally your entire years as a college athlete. However, through all the hard work, you will have the opportunity to play a sport at a level many can only dream about, build lifelong relationships with your teammates, meet many new people, and shape your character into the person you will be after your sports career ends. I also advise student-athletes to participate in as many events or organizations outside of athletics that your schedule allows. This will help you build relationships, experiences, and opportunities in areas beyond what your team provides to promote your future self.”

Christie, thank you so very much for your thoughtful responses! High school student-athletes, be sure to have read Christie’s words carefully as it’s tremendous advice!

And remember, if you are a high school student athlete who has questions regarding the college prep or athletic recruiting process, do not hesitate to contact us ( We want to help you write your ‘Student-Athlete Story’!

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