As a former student athlete at Virginia Tech (VTSB), I know how challenging it is to do your best in the classroom AND on the field. Too many times I would hear people laugh or joke about “athletes” (especially at the collegiate level) and their performance in the classroom. “No one is here for the school…it’s all about the sport!” Jokes aside, this couldn’t be as far from the truth as possible.
You see, if your grades slip, you can’t play. Academics truly come first. If your grades slip, you’re assigned extra study hall hours (did I mention whether you carry a 4.0 average or not, that they can be mandatory for all in the off-season?) and tutoring. However, to fully understand why this matters, you have to understand the basic day of the “student athlete.”
You’re starting off at 6 am for workouts, practices, film reviews, or injury rehab. Then you’re off running across campus to catch your 8 am class (yes, our classes were all early, so we could make afternoon practices…two-a-days, anyone?). Bouncing around from class to class, while adding in more workouts, tutoring, study halls, and then heading to afternoon practice or games (we were literally only on campus maybe three days a week when in season, especially at the beginning). After practice, it’s to the cold tub, time to grab dinner, and back to studying (because you head out at 7am for a weekend series).
So when people decide to become a student athlete, it really isn’t just about the sport. It’s a package deal. You HAVE to perform in both realms, or you don’t get to play. It’s as simple as that.
Needless to say, there’s no doubt why this article would catch my eye then: VT with an 89% graduation rate! It’s an honor to play for your school, but I think many of us *retired* athletes would say that it’s an even bigger honor to walk across the stage and receive your degree (or receive it in the mail…we always had the ACC Championship Tourney during graduation, so many of us didn’t get to walk).
So, congrats to all of my fellow VT athletes! Let’s keep the strong tradition of athletic AND academic success going!