Student shows dedication on and off the field
Faton Bauta learned how to outrun his competition at a very young age.
From his first exposure to football at the age of four to his current position as a quarterback at the University of Georgia, Bauta is no stranger to the hustle and bustle of life as a student athlete. In fact, when the 21-year-old steps off the field, his hectic schedule is just getting started.
The rising senior completed his undergraduate degree in sport management (B.S.Ed. '15) from the College of Education in roughly three years by taking a full schedule of classes every semester, including during the summer and Maymester.
Since he still has two years of eligibility left with Georgia, Bauta is open to pursuing an advanced degree in sport management.
"By playing quarterback and being a part of the football team, you learn a lot about the game of football," said Bauta, who is on the SEC Academic Honor Roll. "I know x's and o's very well, but what I don't know much of is the administration side of sports. I want to fill in this gap, learn this and when I go for my master's, I'm going to learn even more about it."
With this knowledge, Bauta hopes to coach at the college level or in the NFL when his time on the field is over.
"People say that I'm on the struggle bus," he said. "And maybe I am, but I try not to look at it that way. I just see the light at the end of the tunnel."
Bauta's transition into college life—while hectic—wasn't a complete deviation from his on-the-go childhood. As a kid, he attended several of his brothers' football games, and although he didn't pay much attention to what happened on the field, it was only a matter of time before he took on the family sport himself.
"I wasn't like your average four-year-old kid," he said. "I was definitely more mature and just bigger, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I have a lot of older siblings."
While his four older brothers would eventually go on to play college football as offensive linemen, Bauta took advantage of his speed and agility to break away from the pack.
"My brothers are all bigger than me," said Bauta. "I'm actually the smallest in my family. I had to learn how to run away from them, which has a lot to do with the fact that I'm not a lineman—I'm a quarterback."
After moving to New Jersey from his hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y., in high school, Bauta had to commute an hour and a half every morning and evening to continue playing football, basketball and baseball at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn. He arrived at school at 7:30 a.m. and wasn't done with practice until around 7 at night. Once he arrived home, he would repeat the process all over again.
During his junior year, Bauta's football career took a new turn when he decided to transfer to William T. Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., to play quarterback for their football team. While he attributes this move to his current standing with Georgia, it also helped him adjust to life away from home.
"Honestly, that was a huge move for me and my football career because that's kind of what got me here today," he said. "I missed my family, but when it came time for college, I decided I was not going to let this opportunity get away from me, and I made the most out of it so I could come to a place like this."
With rough class schedules and daily football practices, Bauta quickly learned how to balance his time both on and off the field. The key is to stick to a routine, which can make all the difference between whether his day ends an hour early or an hour late, he said.
"I remember how crazy I would get about all the minutes I had in a day to use," said Bauta. "Even during the bus rides to class, I'd be on my phone researching topics for papers or knocking work out on my phone."
Every day, Bauta carefully plans his schedule so he has at least six hours to sleep at night and 20 hours in the week to dedicate to football. He approaches his training the same way he does his studies—by planning each step of the day meticulously around bus schedules, class periods and practices.
"The great motivators of the world say you really don't have to sleep, you can push through it," he said. "That may be the case in other professions, but if you want to succeed in football, which is a very physically taxing sport, and if you try not to get any sleep, you're going to hurt yourself and you're not going to be able to perform physically on the field."
On a typical morning, Bauta lies in bed and mentally prepares himself for the day, assessing everything from what to eat to where to study. He follows a strict diet, eating three meals a day and two snacks in between to keep his weight up after practice, rehab, recovery and maintenance.
As a student athlete, Bauta enjoys taking advantage of all the resources available to him, whether that's the equipment he uses at the gym or the professors he can talk to after class.
"I have my own routine, and I really don't stray away from it too much," he said. "I do every part of it for the guys in the locker room that I play with now. It's the most important thing. It's kind of how football works—it's the ultimate team sport, and if you're not dedicated to it and to your team, you're not going to get what you want out of it."
Bauta likes to keep his eye on the prize, especially since he spends so much time eating right and getting all his work done. Sometimes this means studying and practicing instead of hanging out with friends. But, in the end, he knows that all of his hard work and dedication will open more doors in the future.
"For a competitor like me or like any of us, it's the life we live," he said. "The anxiety, the nervousness, the pressure… it's just a part of life."
When he has time to himself, Bauta enjoys listening to music, watching movies and volunteering with his team. Ultimately, at the end of the day, he likes to know that not a single second of his day went to waste.
"And that's kind of what my goal is everyday—just dive into it and get so locked up in it that you are lost in what you're doing. You kind of have to wake up from it like 'Oh wow, I'm in real life,' because I think that's how you get the best results out of everyday."