Scoring well in the classroom
Bluffton student-athletes are scoring well in the classroom with the support of their coaches and academic resources on campus.
Almost 200 student-athletes held a 3.0 grade point average or higher for the fall 2013 semester, and nearly one-third of them landed on the Dean’s List.
“If you look at the GPAs, I think that speaks volumes,” said James Grandey, head baseball coach and associate athletics director for development.
In addition to natural ability in the classroom, perhaps some of their success can be attributed to coaches’ eagerness to make use of academic resources available on campus.
Coaches may have slightly different academic programs for members of their respective teams. But most require their student-athletes to spend hours studying at the Learning Resource Center (LRC) every week. Grandey, for instance, requires five hours, as well as two additional hours of group study with the team. Hours can be added or reduced depending on the individual student’s needs.
Coaches encourage their players to seek help whenever it’s needed, he said, noting that “we’re very committed to their academic success, not just their athletic success.”
He realizes that student-athletes aren’t thrilled with being required to study, but he thinks it’s worth it. “It gives them a place to go study outside their residence halls, which I think is beneficial.”
He also thinks it demonstrates to student-athletes that their coaches are looking out for them. “I feel it shows them that we care about more than what they are on the playing field.”
Jacqui Slinger, director of academic development services and director of the LRC,
also serves to make sure student-athletes succeed in the classroom.
In addition to providing a quiet place to study, the LRC offers tutoring and personal coaching by Slinger or her graduate assistant.
Even if a student doesn’t need extra help, she tries to arrange a meeting. “We probably meet with half to three-quarters of student-athletes individually to set goals,” she said.
One of her top priorities is to keep an open line between the LRC and the athletics department. “There’s a lot of communication between this office and the coaches,” she said.
Coaches may contact her to connect struggling students with specialized tutors or individual assessment. This is particularly important when athletes are injured, Slinger said, because they may lose their drive for academics when they can no longer play. “Sometimes it’s the sport that keeps them motivated.”
Grandey believes that today’s student-athletes are under more pressure than ever to succeed on their own instead of finding help when needed. “We know that in today’s day and age, not everybody is ready to ask for help.”
“But we need to make sure they’re prepared, as the mission statement says, ‘for life
as well as vocation,’” he added.
by Chay Reigle, Bluffton public relations office