Athletics Vs Academics
Is it possible to be both a student and an athlete? Or will you end up feeling like you are in a vice, being squeezed by both your coaches and your professors?
“We are worried about our son/daughter being able to succeed academically if they are involved in college athletics?” If this is your fear, you are not alone. In my ten years of coaching collegiately at three different colleges, this was by far the most common concern from parents.
Parents, take a minute and step into my office where this conversation played out hundreds of times.
Can my son/daughter Play College Athletics And Succeed Academically?
The short answer is “YES”…if your son/daughter is willing to sacrifice and work hard.
Won’t my son/daughters grades suffer “in season”?
I always enjoyed this conversation because the reality surprises parents.
1. Every year I coached, our average team GPA was higher during the semester in which we were “in season” than it was in our “off season”. Most seasons the difference was significant (3.5 in season vs 3.2 off season). This is consistent with what I have found speaking to dozens of other coaches about their student-athletes.
2. The lowest average team GPA any of my teams ever had was 3.1 and our highest was 3.7. Believe it or not, the 3.7 was “in season”.
3. There were always a few players who were below a 3.0. I always believed it was effort, not intellect or time that held them back.
What does all of this mean?
It means it is not an issue of time. It is an issue of work ethic, discipline, and the character of each student-athlete.
Following are some thoughts and advice for you student-athletes.
What about missing classes due to your athletic commitments?
NCAA rules prevent you from missing class for practice, but how does this play out in real life? Will you be able to get the classes you need and still be able to be at practice every day?
At every school there will be a natural tension between the expectations of your professors and your coach. Each believes what they are doing is the most important place you should be. Most professors work with you and your athletic schedule. There are a few sticklers at every institution.
College athletes across the spectrum of schools and divisions, not only survive, but thrive academically and athletically. Colleges are the ones who are creating the student-athlete role. They don’t have to, they choose to. Colleges take great responsibility to make sure their students have the opportunity and ability to be successful in both areas.
Coaches and upperclassmen can help you work through most of these situations. Coaches are interested in seeing you do well in the classroom. Coaches care for their players and want the best for them. Every college coach I have interacted with sincerely understands sport will be only four years for almost all of their athletes, but the academics are preparing them for their career.
Are There Some Majors That Won’t Allow You To Play Sport?
There are some majors at each school though, that overlap so much that it makes it difficult to be in part of that major and athletics. Don’t be shy, ask the coach during the recruiting process. “Are there any majors that don’t work well with your sport?”
At the last school I was at, for instance, there were a couple majors that didn’t fit with athletics and I was upfront with players interested in those majors. Music and choir majors could not do both because the classes and performances overlapped with practices and games considerably.
I had many education majors come through my program, but it was a challenge for them their junior and, especially, their senior year as they spent more time student teaching. Upper level education classes were taught in the late afternoons when we practiced. I loved having science majors on my teams, but sometimes their labs would run late and they would miss portions of practice.
You may not think this is important now, but trust me, it will be. Make sure you ask the coach if your major will work with playing on the team. Usually the conflicts won’t come until the junior or senior year, so you should be aware early of what those potential problems may be. You may not be able to miss class for practice, but a coach has no obligation to play you if you are not at practices preparing with your teammates for games.
The Routine of a Student-Athlete
The routine for a college student-athlete is very structured. Expect to wake up early, work out, spend your day in classes, go to practices, spend your evenings studying and then to bed. Your life will be far different from those students who do not play. You will have little free time. Generally, academics and athletics work together well, just make sure you have asked the appropriate questions up front so there are no surprises.
Are you ready to be a student-athlete?
You are convinced you can succeed both academically and athletically. Only one problem, coaches are not calling you and offering you a roster spot.
If you feel like you have been stumbling along or have not even started the recruiting process, it is time to take action.
If you are ready for Recruiting to be made easy, you are ready for the
Notice Me Guide: Got Talent. Get a Plan. Get Recruited
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