The athlete advantage

Many student-athletes are viewed as the “big guys” on campus because of their talent in the sports they play, but being a University athlete comes with both benefits and challenges.

For a student-athlete, balancing sports and school may be hard.

Senior Freddie Barnes — a former wide receiver for the University’s football team — said his coaches do a good job with monitoring their athletes’ schoolwork.

But, it’s still up to the students to complete the work and their athletic obligations, which Barnes said is a challenge.

“Being able to maintain academics and athletics is a challenge, and for anyone to take it on and succeed is a great thing,” Barnes said.

As a freshman football player, there is a requirement to dedicate eight hours a week to study tables and maintain a 2.5 GPA. Barnes said if players maintain this GPA, their study table hours will be reduced. Coaches also keep a close eye on players’ work within the classroom.

“They maintain relationships with your teachers and stay updated with your grades,” Barnes said.

Athletes that are on scholarships receive various benefits. Barnes said they generally get a certain amount of money each week to spend on meals in the dining halls. The football team also has team dinners, usually Monday through Thursday.

“It helps out with our funds, and the coaches are able to make sure we are eating,” Barnes said.

Senior Katia Babina, captain of the University’s tennis team, said every freshman has to do six hours of study tables their first semester, and if they get higher than a 3.0 GPA after that, then they do not have to do study tables anymore.

The tennis team practices for two hours every day during their season, and on Mondays and Wednesdays they have lifting for an hour.

During the tennis season the team is typically away every weekend. When they travel, the hotel and food is paid for.

Babina said a benefit of being a student-athlete with a scholarship is having their books paid for, and they receive a meal plan if they live on campus. If they live off campus, as in Babina’s case, they get a check for food and rent.

“I definitely believe that what I do is worth it because I play the sport that I love for a scholarship that I worked hard for before coming to college,” Babina said.

Senior Meg Richardson, captain of the swim team, said they have a very vigorous practice schedule as well. They practice Monday through Saturday all year. The swim team also spends its Saturday mornings together for their three-hour practices.

“Many people don’t realize how much work goes into it. And we don’t get enough credit because people assume that just because we’re athletes we get our school paid for, but that always isn’t the case,” Richardson said.

Richardson said one of the best parts of being on the swim team is the close bond she formed with her teammates.

“A part of being on the team is you have a group of 20 that becomes your family,” she said. “We’re a group of people going through the same thing, so it’s instant friends and instant family.”