It is an age-old stereotype that student athletes, especially those at the collegiate level, put very little emphasis on academics. The struggle to perform to perfection and maintain outstanding grades is real, there’s no doubt about that. Between the large quantities of time athletes must dedicate to practice and classes themselves, sports stars often have very little time to study at the level that is needed in order to be successful, and thus grades begin to drop. However, there are a few exceptions to this ideal. While there are many student athletes out there who struggle with their academics, there are also athletes that excel academically. What makes them different, and how do they do this?
Reinhardt University freshman baseball player Blake Oviedo takes fifteen credit hours per semester—a full class load—and dedicates on average 3-4 hours a day to baseball, yet he still maintains mostly As. As a Pre-Med/Biology major, Oviedo works hard to balance his schoolwork with his sport. When asked if this was a difficult task, he responded, “It was at first, but not anymore. Once I got acclimated to my schedule, I just decided to stick with everything and put forth a lot of effort. It’s worked out so far.”
How coaches encourage athletes to perform academically is also a prominent subject in sports media. Now more than ever, coaches are urging players to remember that athletes are students first. Oviedo commented, “Coach Howard has been really tough on us academically, even having us fill out grade sheets. Even though they can be a bit of a hassle, I think that they motivate us to do well, which is the ultimate goal.”
Alyssa Kroll, sophomore biology major at RU, is a tennis player who also excels academically, even partaking in the Honors program. Kroll states that maintaining good grades during sports season is often a challenge for athletes. “It’s definitely hard sometimes [to maintain high grades], especially during the on season, but it’s doable. It just takes a lot of dedication.” Kroll also stated that playing tennis while working towards a degree has strengthened her personal skills. “I’ve learned a lot about time management and communication,” she said.
Reinhardt cheerleader Brittany Winston is also an exemplary student. The sophomore Global Communications major works hard to balance her time between classes and practices. Winston takes a different stance on the degree of difficulty time management takes of her. “[Time management] has never really been that hard to me. I’ve never let things stress me out, so I just get stuff done,” she said. Like Oviedo’s coach, Winston explains that Coach Fulghom places heavy emphasis on academics. “She’s even given us a couple of practices off to dedicate to studying for finals,” Winston said.
While there are many athletes that do struggle to maintain necessary grade point averages, spectators and fans must also keep in mind that there are an influx of student athletes that parallel as scholars. It is evident that rising to the standards of a student athlete is difficult, but it is also clear that athletes are capable of outstanding academic achievements when adequate effort is applied.
Meagan Hurley, Editor-In-Chief