Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Stadium Studies

by Vicki Hill, Director of the LEC

So what’s somebody with a Ph.D. in English and an emphasis on Women’s Studies doing with an office in the Football Stadium?

Thursday afternoon and early evening provide an easy answer.

At 4:00, the seniors on the football team came to the A-LEC to eat pizza and make sure that all bureaucratic i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed so that their SMU careers will culminate with a graduation walk through Moody. Who still needs to get stamped into a class? What’s the deadline for filing for May graduation? Did they really eat the pizza with extra olives? Is the Degree Progress Report listing of advanced hours correct? Can we keep Mrs. Pellerin in the stands at away games even though Reynaldo is graduating?

At 6:00, a different group of football players came to the A-LEC, those for whom Coach Bennett has requested more extensive support and monitoring. Our newest staff member expressed pleasure at how much he knew about each of these guys—not the case at some other universities where she has worked. These are the players—not many, far fewer than at most Division I schools—who must focus academically if they are going to be able to contribute on the field next fall. No pizza this time. Just a straightforward discussion of what we expect of them, what they should expect of themselves, and what they can expect from us. I was impressed with the guys’ attitude and commitment.

That’s the essence of this job: encouraging and celebrating the successes and identifying and trouble-shooting the problems.

The rewards are huge.

Like all of you, I get to watch our student athletes on the field, on the court, and in the water. High-fiving their triumphs and groaning over each defeat. It’s the same thing in the classroom and lab, only sometimes a little more harrowing.

The biggest pay-off is having a front row seat on how our student athletes transform themselves during their time on the Hilltop, on who they become. How especially gratifying to see both Vic Viloria and Kris Lowe not only back but working for the Athletic Department!

Most of us only get to cheer for our alma maters (Cal 45, A&M 10!!). But that’s pretty fine too.


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