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The 2020 cohort of the Youth Reporting Institute and their work.

'A Hot Mess': Being A Black Student-Athlete, Balancing Work And Life During A Pandemic

WUNC Youth Reporter Caitlin Leggett
Kate Medley

A day in the life of any college student is nothing short of hectic. However, my first semester as a junior at NC Wesleyan College was on a whole different level — each day different from the next, and no routine ever actually staying solid because of, well, the coronavirus.

So, if I had to describe a regular day for me this semester it would be in three words: a hot mess.

A strenuous routine of waking up, going for a run, showering, going to work, clocking in at my internship, going to online classes, hitting volleyball practice, doing homework, reviewing the manuscript for the book I’m writing… rinse, repeat.

I honestly need a fat red stamp that says “COVID-19 Semester” pressed into my junior year transcript. Taking 19 credit hours was a lot, but COVID took my course load overboard. Normally by week four of a semester I’m in a good routine. This fall, I think it got to week six and I was still printing out schedules, struggling with Zoom and figuring out how to do group projects virtually and with social distancing.

This semester, there was never any getting ahead or staying on track, only surviving. You would finish one assignment simply to have 20 more piled into your lap. Not only in the middle of a pandemic, but in the middle of a racial pandemic.

COVID-19 forced the plight of Black people into everyone’s faces. You saw brown bodies dying. You had Black Lives Matter. Protests. Here I am, still Black during all of this, but my professors want me to worry about my work being on time.

WUNC Youth Reporter Caitlin Leggett
Credit Kate Medley / For WUNC
WUNC Youth Reporter Caitlin Leggett.

It started getting difficult to maintain. So, I did little things to make sure the different areas of my life didn't bleed together. If I had a bad practice but I did well on a test, I’m getting ice cream because of small victories.

Now that I’m home, things have slowed down drastically. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect.

This year taught me that life goes on. I’m still working for my internship. Volleyball has been replaced by regular lift sessions at the gym. Oh, and I finally published that book that I was working on: “Mad, Black, Woman: Diaries of the Intersectionality of a Black Woman.”

I guess all I can say is I took everything one step at a time. Even if they were small steps.

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