Beyond Athletics Recruiting is Like..

How Student-Athletes Are Like Superheroes

(Emiliene Etienne)
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(Emiliene Etienne)

I love sports documentaries, and no one does a documentary quite like ESPN. Rain showers moved in on Chicago this passed weekend, so I had the chance to curl up on the couch and catch-up on some films I had ear marked for a stormy day.

I settled in and started up an ESPN Films and Marvel Comics collaboration, 1 of 1: Genesis, which compares the abilities of various professional athletes to comic book heroes from their build, to rare strength, to qualities like perseverance and determination.

I would classify it as a must-see for any sports fan. The entire production is intriguing from start to finish.

And when you think about it, the similarities between student-athletes and superheroes are equally interesting.

Comparing professional athletes to superheroes is something of a no-brainer. We all know pros are already these larger than life characters, with endorsement deals, world ranks, and the trophies and bling to go along with it.

On the flip side, student-athletes are generally the strong, silent types, working hard day-in and day-out to get them job done for themselves, their team, their families, and their communities.

So they have the secret identity part down. How else are student-athletes like superheroes?

They defy odds.

Just think of all the odds and adversity so many student-athletes have had to overcome to get where they are today. From injuries, to naysayers, to months of reaching out to college coaches with literally not a single response.

Being told you’re too small, too slow, or simply not good enough would bring a lesser young man or young woman down for the count.

But not student-athletes. They re-group, re-evaluate, and get going with a new game plan.

Student-athletes defy the odds. Their response to “You can’t:” Watch me.

They are physically and mentally tougher than most.

Year after year, student-athletes undergo a physical and mental toll in order to play the sport that they love. Pushing their bodies to the max, not just during the season, but throughout an entire off-season, to come back stronger, faster, and better than the year before. They miss birthday parties, holidays at home with family, and other social happenings most kids look forward to regularly so they can report for duty on the field.

Oh, and they simultaneously have schoolwork to do and grades to maintain. Their commitment to studies – even after a seven-hour school day, and three-hour practice – requires a mental toughness their peers and other students don’t even have dream of considering.

Student-athletes are physically and mentally tougher than most. They are disciplined, and aren’t easily swayed or distracted when it their sport and their team are on the line.

They do good.

I think the one thing about superheroes that resonates most with people is the characters’ over-arching drive to do good.

Student-athletes share that drive. They are role models to the most impressionable youth of their community. Millions of student-athletes across our country have the rare opportunity to connect and touch young fans on a daily basis.

They bring people together. They make rivalries fun, and competition exciting.

Most of all, student-athletes have an incredible and innate skill set that make them not only a positive part of any community, but provide them with the ability to give back with their brains, brawn, and experiences. Student-athletes do good.


Our scouts are here to help you be a superhero and play your sport at the college that’s right for you. Get started with a recruiting profile.

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About the author
Laura Chmiel

Laura Chmiel is a marketing coordinator and a lead writer for NCSA Athletic Recruiting. As someone with a passion for athletics and education, she graduated from Indiana university with a B.S. in Elementary Education. After school, she gained first-hand experience helping student-athletes and their families get to college.