Student athletes face pressure daily, not only concerning their performance on the field, but in the classroom, too.
They cannot only be concerned about the time in a game, but also the time management they use daily, said Malcolm Butler, associate athletics director of media relations.
“The pressure they face is enormous,” Butler said. “The biggest challenge is trying to manage their time with studying and practice.”
Senior softball infielder Meghan Knowles said she finds it difficult to balance school and practice.
“It is really stressful and I’m going through that right now,” Knowles said. “I’m trying to catch up on work and get everything done.”
Time management is important because student athletes have to juggle road games and different athletic events that can interfere with school, said Knowles.
“You are always gone and missing class all the time,” she said. “You have to take tests when other students take it or before they take it. That is no excuse; you still have to get the work done just like everybody else.”
Balancing study time and practice is a key component for players to stay on the field, Butler said.
“They have to perform well in the classroom in order to have a chance to perform on the field,” he said.
Regulations allow only so many hours that student athletes can practice during their season of competition, said Lisa Merritt, Tech’s assistant athletic director for academics.
“They (student athletes) cannot practice more than 20 hours a week during their season,” she said. “Even during the offseason, they have a certain amount of hours they can practice.”
Not only do student athletes have to put in practice time, but if they are labeled to be in “Academic Risk,” they have to do certain amount of study hours, Merritt said.
“If they have a 2.5 cumulative grade-point average or below, they have to put in study hours,” Merritt said. “They either have to do four or six hours each week while being supervised. They can earn their way out of study hall depending if their GPA is higher than a 2.5.”
People may think student athletes can receive any grade, but Merritt said according to different policies they have to complete a certain percentage before each school year ends.
“They (student athletes) have to meet Louisiana Tech standards and NCAA standards each quarter. They (student athletes) have to declare a degree before their junior year and pass six hours each quarter towards their degree,” Merritt said. “They have to pass 18 hours each year and 24 hours if they are a freshman.Beginning part of their junior year they have to compete 40 percent toward their degree. Before their senior year they have to complete 60 percent. It is also in the student’s mind: I’m going to be eligible to play.”
Not only do players who are struggling have mandatory study hall hours, but the Lady Techsters underclassman also have mandatory study sessions they have to attend, Knowles said.
“The younger players on the team are required to go to study hall,” Knowles said. “They have to have six hours of study hall each week.”
Student athletes may face pressure with studying but they have to deal with finding classes that won’t interfere with school.
“They have to talk to their professor and see if their athletic schedule will conflict with them taking the class,” Merritt said. “We (athletic academic department) have to work hard and schedule classes they can miss and still make a decent grade in the class.”
For the student athletes who miss class, Meritt said they have to work out something with the professor so they can make up their work.
“We have an agreement with the professors on campus,” she said. “At the beginning of the year we give them a travel letter during their season of competition. The letter tells them these are the dates our students will be gone.”
Merritt said with the help of technology, students have been able to contact their professors to make up work when they (student athletes) miss school.
“I think it has been made easier with technology,” she said. “With Moodle and email, they have been able to keep in contact with their professors. Some professors even give the student athletes their cell phone number to contact them about assignments in class. They (student athletes) have Internet access in the hotel room and other places where they can complete the work. It is just another part of their day.”
Regardless of what sport athletes are in, time management is a crucial skill that players must develop throughout their collegiate career, Knowles said.
“It takes a well-planned schedule and discipline,” Knowles said. “A lot of times we are sitting on a bus or an airplane and it is different from sitting in the library. There is a lot of distraction when you are on the road.”
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