Overcoming the Athlete and NARP Divide

If you are an athlete, what do you think of “non-athletic regular people,” or NARPs for short? If you are a NARP, what do you think of athletes? You can ask anyone on campus and you will hear a few stereotypes about each. But I am in a unique position to talk about what it is like to be an athlete and a NARP, since I have been both.

During high school, I set a goal to get recruited to play Division I field hockey at Georgetown. At the time it seemed to be the school of my dreams, where I could get my nursing degree while playing my favorite sport. At the end of junior year, I finally committed to be a D-I athlete at Georgetown, and I thought it was the best choice for me.

After I played my freshman season with Georgetown field hockey, I decided to quit. Quite simply, the experience was not for me. After dedicating more than 25 hours a week to my sport, waking up at 5 a.m. for practice and going to bed at 9 p.m. every night, field hockey did not fit in with what I wanted my Georgetown experience to be. I was living my high school dream, yet I was unhappy. Even when I resolved to quit the sport, my world shattered when I actually left it.

After quitting, I became even more aware of the divide between athletes and NARPs, and I struggled to cross to the NARP side, as I had to overcome many stereotypes facing both athletes and NARPs.

A major athlete stereotype is that he or she was only admitted because of athletics. In my transition to becoming a NARP, I was concerned and afraid that I could not academically perform as well as my classmates. It was not until I stopped doubting myself that my grades really started to reflect my hard work. I realized Georgetown wants each of us – athlete or not – to succeed.

In the recruiting process during the summer before my senior year of high school, I went through a prescreening application process at Georgetown to see if I could pass admissions. This is because Georgetown cannot recruit players to come to a school where they cannot achieve academic success. After I passed I had to keep up my academic performance and apply through regular decision to Georgetown. I met the exact same requirements as any other student to get in. I have exceeded expectations in my nursing program, and this makes me confident in Georgetown’s athletic recruiting process.

Another athlete stereotype is that “athletes only have athlete friends.” At one point in time, this was true for me. Athletes spend more than 25 hours a week with each other and pretty much have the exact same schedule. It is very similar to my life as a NARP too. I spend anywhere from 24 to 32 hours a week with my nursing friends in the classroom and during clinical, a time requirement in the hospital to practice our nursing skills. It is just easier to make friends with people you see so often and with whom you have the exact same schedule, whether you are an athlete or NARP.

As an athlete, I did not have to make friends. Since day one of preseason, I met and had a group of teammates who were my friends. After the first few weeks of quitting, I wanted to make NARP friends, but I wondered if it was just too late to make friends because I had not been in any clubs or activities.

I felt anxious to go to O’Donovan Hall alone when I saw big groups of freshman going to lunch and dinner together with classmates or friends from their clubs. In hopes of meeting new people, I joined club lacrosse, club field hockey and starting working at the Residence Hall Offices. It was not until the second semester that I reconnected with my middle school friend and I found my best friends at Georgetown. I realized that at Georgetown it only takes one great Hoya to make me feel like I had completed the difficult transition from being an athlete to being a NARP.

Whether you are a NARP or athlete, college is a place for experiencing new classes, people and clubs. We get to choose exactly what we want to do with our free time, whether it be a DI sport, a club sport, a job or a club. The best part about Georgetown is that if we are not happy with a sport, club or job, we can change it. I would not trade anything for both of my experiences as an athlete and a NARP, yet I never realized how our athlete and NARP cultures are unnecessarily divided among campus.

I believe it stems from a lack of understanding of a different way of life while, in actuality, we are all the same college kids choosing what we want to do with our lives in preparation for the real world. Maybe we are not so different after all. And if you take it from me, we are all high-achieving academic and social students at the best university in the world.

 

Bridget Denzel is a junior in the School of Nursing and Health Studies.

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