By Floyd Rideau Jr.
Student Athletes often struggle to balance academics, athletics and, in some cases, a job. But it’s eye-opening to take a deeper look at the real experiences of Boyd Anderson athletes. There is, you may surprised to learn, a good number of athletes who are great students in the classroom.
Boyd Anderson coaches help their players by making time for students to study either before or after practice. “We make the athletes attend mandatory study hall, and they must turn in a weekly progress report,” said Coach Cedric Smith, head coach of the JV men’s basketball program at B.A. The way the basketball team decides to address the problem of athletes lagging behind academically is well-conceived. The report provides students, coaches, and parents an ongoing record of the athletes’ academic progress.
The pressure put on athletes by coaches at Boyd Anderson is highly positive but also intense. A school survey showed that out of 120 students, 74.2% played at least one sport, 43.3% played at least two sports, and 19.1% played three sports. Clearly, most students in the school play sports. That means a lot of students are pressed for time to study because they have practice for three or four hours after school.
Yet most of the Boyd Anderson coaches have “been there done that” so, this allows them to give the athletes advice based on first-hand experience. Coach Smith says, “I will tell athletes to have a set schedule for practice and homework. They should try to maintain a 3.0 GPA and stay out of trouble and off of social media.” The social media thing sounds a bit drastic, but keeping that 3.0 will allow athletes to stay ahead of the game. It’s a higher bar than the 2.0 average athletes typically must maintain to remain in the sport.
Shifting schedules are another challenge for those athletes whose practices take place at different times every day.
“It’s difficult for me to stay on a schedule because I’ve never had to be on a schedule,” said Kenny Ermat, a sophomore player on the Boyd Anderson men’s basketball team. Athletes like Mr. Ermat may have a hard time adjusting to more challenging team scheduling requirements. They should start with small steps, the coaches advise. For example: start getting up at the same time every day; then start eating your meals at the same time and setting aside study time at the same hour daily. Before you know it, you’ll reach that consistent balance that a student athlete’s success relies on.
The bottom line is, young athletes should take school work seriously. It’s a challenge to juggle grades, practice, games, and meetings. It takes hard work and commitment all around the board.