Whether staying in the game or pursuing new goals after graduation, Dixie State University student athletes’ say their experiences in sports will accompany them in their after-college pursuits.
Dixie State University student athletes choose a variety of career paths after college, which include going overseas to pursue a professional career.
Senior baseball player Gentry Hatch, an integrated studies major from Roosevelt, contemplates going into recreational management or coaching after he graduates.
He said being a part of the Dixie baseball team is where his interest in coaching came from.
Hatch said his involvement in sports is what influenced his decision in attending college. He said balancing baseball, his class schedule, and maintaining good grades is difficult. Maintaining balance can translate into the workforce, he said.
“I don’t know if I would have went to college if it wasn’t for baseball because I had scholarship opportunities,” Hatch said. “In playing sports, I’ve always had to work hard [and] being a student athlete, I have had to balance both … I have to get good grades so I can play.”
Tyler Slesk, DSU academic adviser, was a student athlete who played baseball at DSU. He said he had a lot of help from administration who kept him on track. In turn, he wants to help others athletes in the same way.
“I want to see other athletes do the same and try to reach their potential as far as an athlete goes [and] not just as an athlete, but in the academic field as well,” Slesk said. “I think a lot of that gets overlooked.”
A lot of student athletes tend to want to stay in athletic oriented fields, Slesk said, because of the positive experience in a team setting. Some career choices are based in exercise science, he said, while some student athletes choose to go into psychology because they have had to deal with motivation. Other student athletes choose to go into business because of their competitive nature, Slesk said.
“Almost any job that you apply for, at the bottom of [the application] they are going to [ask] ‘Do you work well on teams?’” Slesk said. “So, being able to be a leader, on the field or on the court, definitely translates to a career type setting. If you’re a leader there, you are going to be a leader … in the profession of your choice.”
Golfer Skylar Schone, a junior accounting major from St. George, said he knows if he put in the time and effort into golf, he could be a professional. Schone said he has other goals and values in life that take time and dedication and he chooses to focus on these.
“All sports teach you so many life lessons,” Schone said. “Golf especially teaches you patience, how to work with other people, how to control yourself mentally … and causes something good to come out of it.”
Being a student athlete has given him many chances to network, Schone said.
“College sports are its own little world,” Schone said. “If you … become a student athlete it opens up so many opportunities.”
DSU Athletic Director Jason Boothe said in a phone interview student athletes who are in a team related environment develop teamwork skills that can translate into a career setting.
“I think [teamwork] teaches them leadership and how to work with diverse populations [and to] work with others that may or may not be on the same page with you,” Boothe said. “Most the time in athletics they probably are [in agreement,] but there are times when you’ll have issues with teammates that
you’ve got to work through. You may not get that as a traditional student.”
Some student athletes do continue playing on, such as past DSU student and basketball player Maurice Cole. Cole, who played basketball for DSU in 2011 to 2012, continues to play basketball in England, while obtaining his master’s degree, Boothe said.
Senior basketball player DeQuan Thompson, a communication major from Las Vegas, looks to follow Cole’s path by traveling overseas to play. Thompson said he is looking into playing basketball professionally in Spain after he graduates. Even though past teammate Cole is gone, Thompson said he continues to keep an interest in the basketball team.
“[Cole] keeps an eye on how we do during the season, because he use to play here,” Thompson said. “I keep touch with him and see how he is doing.”
Thompson said he will be the first person in his family to graduate from college and this encourages him in his goals.
“Ever since I was young, I’ve always had a ball in my hand,” Thompson said. “My mom always pushed me to go out and work harder, and to reach the next level.”