By Simon Brossier
[media-credit name=”Sarah Harris” align=”alignleft” width=”200″][/media-credit]
When I asked some of my non-athlete friends what stereotypes behind student athletes were, it did not take them long to figure out an answer that seemed reasonable and somewhat logical to them. As student athletes, we are viewed as the ones on campus who get all types of privileges. College athletes are seen as people who always miss class at least twice a week to play a conference game and as the ones who clearly do not care about academics. In fact, most people think that teachers make our lives easier by not grading our tests as hard as everyone else.
What people don’t see is that student athletes actually are students first. We are students first because we need a good GPA in order to be eligible to play. We are students first because we have to make up the assignments and tests we missed while traveling for games. We are students first because we are realistic and know that we have to get a valuable college degree, since only a few of us will become professional athletes. Our work rate on the field translates into the classroom. This is probably why last year, the average GPA for a student athlete was higher than a regular student’s GPA.
You might ask me how this is possible. The only thing I will tell you is that we set ourselves challenges that we like to beat. Being a student athlete is far from being easy. Between early morning conditioning sessions, practices during the day, and traveling for games, we also have to find time to go to class, to study, but also to relax and have a social life. It takes a lot of organization in order to do well both on the field and in the classroom. But our mentality is such that we will always try to do the best we can; it’s the same as how we will always fight for a win, rather than accepting a tie or a loss.
We are in a position where everyone knows who we are. One can easily recognize us, either because we’re walking around with our gear on, or because we are struggling to even move with all the bags of ice wrapped around our legs. People know our faces and who we are which means that we have to be role models. We are up early on the weekends to practice, to get better as our job is to represent the school, while everyone else on campus is still sleeping and recovering from a rough night at Toad’s. Our coach always tells us “Respect yourself. But most importantly, respect the program and the school itself, because once you’re gone no one will remember you. The only thing you’ll ever leave behind you is what you did to make Quinnipiac a better place.”
Being part of an athletic team puts us in a little bubble that we share with our coaches and teammates. Everyone knows (and sometimes complains) that we are always together as a team. We use this unity as a way to make our community a better place, which is why we often participate in “Positive Play” events, which are designed to encourage our involvement within the community. Our coaches not only want us to succeed athletically, but they also simply want us to succeed in life, which is by far way more important.
We understand that we have the privilege to play a sport in college. However, we are all aware that we are students first. Breaking the negative stereotypes is not an easy task. As much as we try to change them, most of them will change as soon as people start to look closer at who we truly are and what we really do.