Home / 2011-01-20 / Athletes in the classroom might be different than what you think

Athletes in the classroom might be different than what you think

Lacey Bearden
Staff Writer
lbearden@valdosta.edu

 Every college student has felt overwhelmed and stressed out from the pressures of school and the heavy workload piled on by professors. And every student has practiced procrastination and long late hours in the Odum library geeked up to stay awake and finish a project or paper that is due that day.  Most students are able to get by with pulling all-nighters and sleeping the entire next day.  Well, what if you didn’t even have time to procrastinate? What if you couldn’t shove everything to the night before because you have practice till late that night and early morning workouts?  Perhaps procrastinating is out of the question because you are leaving town and missing the next few days of class for an away game or tournament?
VSU’s student athletes have to struggle to find the time to excel in the classroom in between their busy, demanding and pressuring athletic schedules.  “Half-assing” this isn’t an option either, because the NCAA requires a minimum 2.0 GPA that all athletes must maintain. If an athlete drops below a 2.0, they don’t play.
 The softball team runs a tighter ship than most other sports at VSU. They must receive all A’s and B’s which allows them to show off their excellent overall team GPA of 3.4.   They also are not allowed to hangout at the bars in Remerton like most VSU students.
 “We are on a curfew,” Holly Satterfield, a junior psychology major and pitcher for the Lady Blazers, said. “We have to be in by 10 p.m. every night, including weekends.”
 Most of VSU’s student athletes have enjoyed the experience, but still find it challenging to juggle their priorities without slipping through the cracks.  Some student athletes like the pressure placed on them by professors, coaches, teammates and the fans, while others let the pressure get to them and affect their performances. 
 “Managing time is always tough, but I use a planner religiously and try to get everything done before away games,” Irene Hannan, a senior nursing student and volleyball player, said.
 “Managing my time because of all of my baseball obligations, kind of forces me to get my work done instead of putting it off,” John Koenigsfeld, senior education major and baseball playe,r said.
Time management helps in the success of student athletes despite the accusations they face about special treatment.
“I try to do stuff throughout the day and not just put them off till nighttime,” Russ Callaway, senior, business major and quarterback, said. “Professors expect more out of us because they know coaches check our grades.
A common misconception regarding athletes in the classroom is assuming they receive special treatment from professor just because they play sports at VSU.
“There are a few professors at this school that seem to want to see athletes fail, and they don’t work with us when we go on trips,” Ryan Nelson, senior mass media major and basketball player, said.
Classroom attendance is a requirement for athletes here at VSU, so even if they have a late practice and don’t get to bed until the wee hours of the morning after a few hours of studying, that 8 a.m. class is still a must. The athletic department checks attendance regularly and if they miss class each sport has their individual dreaded punishments.
 “I have never gotten any special privileges in the classroom,” Laura Boos, senior nursing student and volleyball player, said.  “In fact for nursing school I was forced to miss playing in away games to avoid missing too much class; I had to strictly follow the attendance policy just like every other student.”
 “Coach Poyer never lets our sport come before classes,” Hannan said. “If we fall behind in a class or need extra time to do something or have a group meeting we cannot miss, coach is always willing to work with us.”
 Being a student athlete can be difficult and trying at times but most of them will tell you that it just comes with the territory.
“In the future I’m going to forget the games I played in, but I will never forget the experiences and relationships that I built with teammates I had over the years,” Koenigsfeld said.
“Being a student athlete is being able to do what I love doing, while at the same time getting an education,” Callaway said.

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