At least once a day you cross paths with one of these rare (but not-so-rare) creatures. They're easy to identify with lots of red, Nike logos, spandex and sweatpants. We all see that athlete walking in late to class, but what do we really know about them? Here are some things they don't tell you about being a student athlete from the perspective of a Bama rower (me).

We exercise a LOT

Which is to be expected, considering that we are in fact athletes. This doesn't mean working out everyday, though. It means working out twice a day. On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday we have two practices. On Wednesday and Saturday we have one practice and Sunday's work out is on our own. We train either on the Black Warrior River, off of Manderson Landing or indoors in our facility in the Student Activity Center at Presidential Village. During our competitive racing seasons we practice as a team for 20 hours every week.

We also eat a lot, like a lot

The way our schedules are set up (in which we burn a ton of calories in the morning, then go to classes and then back to practice) wreaks havoc on our diets. This combination often makes it difficult to eat when we need to for recovery and nutrition. It's been proven that in situations like this, athletes are much more likely to make unhealthy food decisions, as our willpower is so depleted from exercise and we don't have the blood glucose levels to replenish it. We're basically always hungry and we eat lunch at 10:30 in the morning.

We may only be collegiate athletes, but we're professional nappers

beer, tea, coffee
Shannon Sweatt

We wake up sometime between 4:15 and 5:30am (at the latest). It depends on the individual rower and how fast-and-loose you want to play with getting to practice. We'll sleep anytime, anywhere pretty much. One of the few ways to consistently stay awake in class is to bring snacks to keep us occupied (I meant it when I said we eat a lot).

No, we can't skip practice

Unless you're sick or injured. For our team, if you miss practice, you won't row for that practice or for the following practice, neither does anyone else in your boat. All of the rowers in your boat will be inside conditioning, even if just one person doesn't show. This also happens if you get to practice 15 or more minutes late.

We're really clumsy

tea, beer, cake, pizza
Shannon Sweatt

We picked a sport that doesn't require hand-eye coordination for a reason. The reason is that we are a danger to ourselves and others in even the simplest of tasks, like walking past a door. Meaning kicking that door, then running into that door on the way to get a band-aid from where you kicked that door.

Missing class can be brutal

Not to mention some professors don't care if you're gone to compete for the school. An absence is an absence. We're often docked points for being absent and we miss the lecture material from those classes.

We walk up stairs really slowly

We don't mean to take up the entire stairwell or move at a snail's pace. We're just a bit tired. Sometimes we're eyeing that next landing like it's the bright light at the end of the tunnel.

It ain't all sunshine and rainbows

In fact it's usually cold and raining when we travel. Or snowing and hailing. Or windy and wavy. You get the point. This is especially harsh when we go north to places like Boston and New Jersey in the fall and early spring.

Despite all the negatives, we still keep coming back

fish, water
Shannon Sweatt

Even though we like to complain about crew (frequently), we all have something different that brought us to this team. That something is not shoes and backpacks. Everyone has their reason for being here and it's the summation of those reasons that makes us the team we are.