Student athletes balance practice, social life while maintaining grades

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There are universities where student athletes don’t need to work hard in the classroom, but Dixie State University is not one of those schools. 

Being a student athlete is hard. I would know…I am one. On top of going to school, we athletes have practice, conditioning practice, weights, film sessions, and study hall. We all know school comes first; collectively, DSU athletes have an average of 3.1 GPA. 

Each sports team also has to do a certain number of community service hours. Since 2010, DSU athletes have accumulated over 6,200 hours of community service. We’ve received Pacific West Conference community Engagement Award five times and the 2011-12 NCAA Community Engagement Award. 

“Student athletes are not lazy at all,” said English professor Susan Ertel. “In fact, they work harder than most other students because the policy says you need to negotiate before you go on a trip to get your assignments in and take your test early. You have less time to study than your peers who aren’t student athletes.”

There are some professors who treat student athletes differently in a negative way. Once they see or notice an athlete they instantly assume that athlete won’t try or isn’t willing to work. But there is an NCAA and school policy that says you can’t treat a student athlete any different than you would a regular student. 

“I do see a difference when I tell my professor the position I play,” said Malik Watso a senior theater arts major from Pittsburg, California, who will be DSU quarterback this year. “I usually don’t like to tell people the position I play just because there are a lot of expectations being a black quarterback, and I really don’t like talking about football when I’m in class.”

Ertel said athletes, or whoever is traveling, is representing the university, and it’s not our fault that we get a 10 day trip to Hawaii. When people hear DSU athletes are going to Hawaii, they assume we are on vacation, but in all actuality we are working to stay caught up in the classroom as if we never left.

Watso said all of his professors have been easy to work with because they all have had his best interest at heart and treated him just like everybody else.

Almost every night I stay up till about 1 a.m. studying for classes, doing homework so I don’t fall behind. I have class at nine every morning until about 11:45 a.m. Then I have about 15 minutes to get to practice which starts at noon. Practice ends at 3 p.m. and I go straight to weights for about an hour. After weights I have study hall for a couple hours and then I get home around 6:30 p.m. and shower, eat, and finish the rest of my homework. There isn’t much time for myself or to hangout with friends. 

Since starting athletics, we athletes have been told to choose between a social life, good grades, or a sport that we love. I’ve always chosen good grades and the sport I love, but I wish I had time to have a social life. 

Next time you think student athletes are getting special treatment, keep in mind the countless hours they spend on schoolwork, practice, traveling and games, all on top of their regular classes.