Technical Timeouts: Justin Lui - The Lifestyle of a NCAA Studen-Athlete
Justin Lui (Pickering, ON) is playing his first year in the NCAA for the Stanford Cardinal. A member of the 2018 Junior National Team and a Champion of the 2017 Canada Games with Team Ontario - he’s one of the best libero prospects in the world.
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Beep! Beep! Beep!
Amidst a spirited dream, I am awoken by the incessant sound of my alarm blaring next to my ear. It is 6:30am and yet again, I am feeling both tired and unenthused, wishing for a few extra minutes of rest. Contrary to my desire for sleep, I decide to click my alarm off and thereby commit to my day as a NCAA volleyball player. I saunter out of bed, ensuring that I do not awaken my two roommates sleeping a few feet away from me. I change my clothes, brush my teeth and head out the door towards my first task of the day. Unlike most university students, I have to wake up at 6:30am, rather than go to sleep at this time. As one can imagine, my morning walk by the lounge features the sight of my friends face-planted in their caffeinated energy drinks or passed out on the keyboards of their laptops. A simple reminder of a Stanford students' arduous lifestyle.
Due to this ungodly hour of awakening, breakfast is not yet open, so I consume the only available nourishment around – a cup of coffee and a lone banana. By 7am, I head to my bike to begin my trek towards the locker room. The bike ride takes about 10-12 minutes but is endured shortly as I am accompanied by the rising sun and Californian palm trees, which together, help cure my prolonged lassitude. By the time I enter the locker room, it is around 7:20am. I quickly change into my volleyball attire and walk over to the weight room. Inside this clinically bare room lies an amalgam of football players, wrestlers and swimmers who have already begun their morning workouts at 6:45am. I instead head to the corner to begin foam roll-out and activation warmup with my team. By 7:50am, we begin our weights workout. We complete the workout as a team and head back to the locker room by 9am. At this time, I quickly shower, grab a protein shake from the food stand and head to my first class. On a typical day, I have class beginning at 9:30am and ending at 3:20pm with a brief, hour long lunch break at 11:30am.
Once my last class is completed, I bike over to the locker room to prepare for practice. Often joined by a few teammates, I get changed into my volleyball gear and walk over to the practice gym to help set up the nets. Practice begins around 4:30pm and runs non-stop until 7:30pm. This may seem quite lofty, practicing 3 hours a day (especially to younger athletes), but trust me, once you get into the rhythm of it, the time seems to fly. After the nets are torn down, the team discussion is complete and the roll-out is finished, I walk back to the locker room to shower. Quickly after, I head back to my residence to eat dinner. I eat around 8pm alongside a few of my friends, or if I am alone, I skim through a few news articles to occupy the apparent loneliness.
Once my appetite is filled, I commence the student grind. If I have a lot of work, I will go to the campus library to ensure peace and quiet for my focused efforts. Otherwise, I will begin work in the residence lounge, taking infrequent breaks to talk to friends who are studying with me. I normally finish all the work I had planned to do by 1am – 1:30am. By now, I am completely exhausted and I immediately crash into my room to get as much sleep as possible. I fall asleep finally, only to be awaken by the sound of my alarm. Beep! Beep! Beep! And thus, the day is anew.