Student athletes go through stress, sacrifices, pressure, and more just to do what they truly love. But that did not stop Kryztain Walton of Palomar’s men’s basketball team from becoming who he is today. Walton grew up in a military family with his father being absent at times due to being deployed in the navy. While his dad was away serving this country, his mom was always there to help and be there for her family in any way she could. She became his role-model.

“She’s the strongest person I know, although her 5 ‘3″ might fool you. Her spirit has always inspired me even while I was young,” said Walton.

Walton’s childhood consisted of a lot of basketball and football games. “We were always playing in pop warner and AAU leagues growing up, supporting one another,” said Khrystofer Walton, Kryztian’s older brother. Although Kryztian life was heavily involved in sports, he had a lot of doubts about playing sports beyond high school.

“I always loved basketball though, through high school I had a lot of skepticism about playing the sport just from the stress my body was accumulating,” said Walton. Because of the stress, he turned down an offer to play basketball at Sonoma State. He felt that he had lost the love for the sport; he just wanted to continue his education.

But after some thought, he regretted his decision to stop playing and decided to go back to play basketball at the next level. “This is why I have come to Palomar in hopes to redo my mistake to quit basketball and take back the student athlete life I want,” he said.

Palomar student Kryztian Walton looks at his planner at the Palomar College library.

Kryztian Walton looks at his planner for upcoming assignments at the Palomar library. (Chris Gallegos/The Telescope)

Walton earned First Team All-PCAC in his first year at Palomar, finishing with 192 points, 133 rebounds, 16 assists, nine steals, and 24 blocks as a freshman. He also led the conference with a 64.9 field goal percentage for the 2022-23 season. “It feels great to be named All-PCAC first team, it is reassurance to me that the hard work Coach Patterson, and Coach Buzz put me through is paying off. Also, it’s motivating for me to keep working just as hard if not harder moving forward,” said Walton.

Walton has two main goals in his life: one short, one long.

“A short term goal I have is becoming a Division I athlete and reaching my full potential as a collegiate basketball player. A long term goal I have is to eventually become a physical therapist as I want to be able to help athletes recover from injuries quicker and more efficiently.”

Walton grew up knowing that becoming the student athlete he wanted to be, it wasn’t going to be easy. There was going to be a lot of pain, stress, and sacrifices to get where he wants to be. One thing that keeps him going is to stick to a routine.

“First, I will make breakfast and take a shower every morning…Then I will go to my classes [that] I have from Monday through Friday, both of them starting at 11 a.m. After the class, I will go to the gym on Monday and Wednesday for an hour and Tuesday and Thursday I will play basketball. Monday and Wednesday I will also go for a run after my 6 -7:30 p.m. class just to keep my cardio up,” said Walton.

Khrystofer always reminds his younger brother that “it takes sacrifice to chase your dreams and in the end, you got to put the work in [that] others aren’t willing to in order to be great.”

Other athletes share similar challenges as Walton. Freshman volleyball player Ashlynn Craven sacrificed many things everyday because she wants and loves to be a student athlete.

Palomar volleyball player Ashlynn Craven (5) high-fives a teammate at a beach volleyball match.

Palomar volleyball player Ashlynn Craven (5) high-fives a teammate at a beach volleyball match on April 7, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Cara Heise.)

“One challenge I’ve struggled with as a student athlete is missing out on making core memories with my friends and family throughout my life,” said Craven. “I’ve always been a student athlete so I’ve had to face the fact that I’ve chosen my priorities as an athlete, which means I have to miss out on some things.”

“The biggest struggle of being a student athlete is time management.” said Ian Halverson, a freshman baseball player at Palomar. “So many student-athletes struggle with mental health because of [it].”

The stress of managing your time in the correct way brings more undo stress and unwanted pressure to make sure you as a student athlete are doing everything correctly. However, time management can be a very stressful thing in a student athlete’s life that’s, not the only thing that can cause stress to an athlete.

Palomar baseball player Ian Halverson (8) gets ready for batting at home base.

Palomar baseball player Ian Halverson (8) gets ready for batting at home base. (Photo courtesy of Cara Heise)

“Student athletes are expected to take a full load of classes and make sufficient progress toward degree completion each year. Failure to meet satisfactory academic progress will result in loss of eligibility for sports participation. Although student‐athletes will experience challenges, it is critical for student‐athletes to strike a balance among these three domains and avoid role engulfment,” said GAYLES, J. G.; BAKER, A. R. in the article Opportunities and Challenges for First-Year student-athletes Transitioning from High school to College.

Walton believes that one of the greatest challenges student athletes face is going to school while playing sports at a high level. “The wear and tear your body takes from being an athlete is exhausting,” he said. “Coming home from a big game or a tiring practice to automatically begin your homework that may be due that week is a process that is extremely tiring though very rewarding.”

What is Palomar College doing for its student athletes?

Daniel Lynds, Director of Athletes for Palomar College, wants to make sure all student athletes have the best possible collegiate experience. There are four things that he oversees daily:

Coaching: “The support that our coaches give the players, it’s the coach-player relationship where they are trying to make the player better but at the same time, they are hands-on with the academic side of things. They are there to improve everything in the student athlete whether it is on or off the court.”

Medical: “We have last year’s state athletic trainer Flecicia Heise, our second trainer Dennis Greenhill, so we have elite level medical support in the room on a daily basis. Where the student athletes can get treatment for any injuries, preventative care, along with pre and post-season rehab. We try to provide them with everything they need for their bodies to be in the best possible condition so they can compete.”

Academics: “We have two academic counselors and one academic advisor, who monitor how the students are doing, grade checks, and make sure student-athletes are passing and staying on their academic course. They are providing everything that student athletes need to be successful.”

Administrative: “ Making sure all the student athletes are doing to correct paperwork while making sure they stay eligible to play. We also have our athletic equipment staff, the athletic equipment specialist John Hennessey, who oversees all uniform. Also, Cara Heise who is our sports information specialist, she maintains all social media platforms and publicizes our student athletes to help them get promoted and get recruited.”

Palomar Athletic Director Daniel Lynds.

Athletic Director Daniel Lynds. (Chris Gallegos/The Telescope)

“I always loved basketball though, through high school I had a lot of skepticism about playing the sport just from the stress my body was accumulating,” said Kryztian Walton. (Photo by Bethany Palmer)Hard work and sacrifices come with being a student athlete, whether it is missing out on core memories with family and friends or the wear and tear on your body.

“I believe in redefining my impossible, everyone likes to say certain attainable things are impossible to achieve whereas I believe I can control what’s impossible and possible,” said Walton. •

Palomar basketball player Kryztian Walton holds a basketball while standing under a hoop.