Being a coach is far more than deciding on a strategy of play, or teaching the skills of the sport. There are infinite opportunities for teaching life skills to our student-athletes.
Athletics can sometimes be a means to an end. The number one priority for our student-athletes is to graduate with experience and a degree that will prepare them for the “real world.” Often times, however, academics can be a very real struggle for some.
I had a student-athlete who did not want to stay in school. He hated academics and couldn’t stand the thought of four years of higher education.
We had several discussions about the need for a degree, and what it would mean for his future. His first semester proved to be a tough one, and at the end of it Ryan was severed from school. I knew that his passion was ski racing, and to lose that would be devastating for him. I also knew that it is okay for people to have varied reasons to stay in school. Ryan and I met. He agreed to write a letter of appeal in hopes of gaining re-admittance to the school. He also knew that his letter had to express his feelings truthfully and sincerely.
Ryan worked on the letter without any assistance from me. If he were to be re-admitted, he could then take full credit and also build the needed confidence to support his choice, to know that he had made the right decision.
Ryan was admitted back into the school. His attitude changed. He had a new sense of why he was here. He wanted to ski race in college so badly, but in order to do so, he had to take time to learn other things.
In the end Ryan succeeded both on the hill and in the classroom. His outlook became positive. Today he is a successful business manager as well as a small business owner. He also is a huge supporter of Plymouth State, and he cherishes the time he spent here.
Athletics provided the motivation for him to attain an academic degree. There are many trails up the mountain, but the view from the summit is no less spectacular.