Volume 7, Number 3, 1998

Time management crucial for student-athletes

Editor's note: This article was written before the death of Dr. Janice Jordan on June 22. Dr. Jordan, HP '75M, died after a long illness. She worked at the University for more than 26 years. A memorial service for Dr. Jordan is scheduled for 4 p.m., Friday, Sept. 25, on the campus.

Learning time management is of primary importance for student-athletes," says Janice Jordan, director of Student Services for Athletes (SSA). "Practice, games and classes take many hours of the student-athlete's time each week, and for each athlete, the time commitment is different."

"What people don't realize is that you have extra responsibilities," explains Brian Cooper, AS '97, a varsity lacrosse goalie while at the University. "People are just not aware, and it is hard to convey to them that you don't have time." Cooper followed a five-day per week practice schedule during the lacrosse season, with games on Saturday. Sunday was his only day off.

Cooper gives the Student Services for Athletes a good bit of credit for his successful completion of a double major in political science and history with a G.P.A. of more than 3.0. Arriving at the University with a partial tuition scholarship, he also was accepted for the work-study program on campus with its accompanying work requirement. For Cooper, that meant 10 more hours added to an already busy schedule.

"During my first year, I used several services of the SSA," Cooper says. "I attended the freshman seminar, used the tutoring services and turned to people for counseling and support." Cooper says he still maintains close contact with some of the staff.

Greeting the freshman members of all the athletic teams before classes begin in the fall, the staff explains SSA services and encourages the new student-athletes to attend the freshman seminar, offered jointly with the College of Health and Nursing Sciences. This may be the only contact the student has with the program, but while at the University, the program remains available to the student- athlete at any time.

Academic progress is monitored by SSA counselors in a cooperative effort with the coaches. Assigned to specific teams, each counselor becomes familiar with the special atmosphere that is created within each team as the students spend time together and develop as a team family.

Some teams are small and have a tradition of being very supportive of each other. However, the dynamics within a team can change from year to year.

"We help with concerns related to being a member of a team," says Mark Krautheim, assistant director of SSA. "Many student-athletes, who may have been stars in high school, need help adjusting to being a minor player at a university. It is a major self-esteem issue."

Student-athletes are encouraged to develop other aspects of their identities because they may not start or even play in games during their freshman year at the University. Being "red-shirted" means the student-athlete practices but does not play in games, allowing them time to develop for a year.

Progress reports, self-reports and reports from coaches are used to track each athlete's academic progress. If an athlete has a low G.P.A., poor class attendance or a failing class grade, strategies are developed with the student-athlete to find a solution.

SSA also helps to expand the student-athlete's experiences by providing opportunities for volunteering in the community. Past students have been involved with groups such as Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity and community schools.

Cooper was involved with the peer mentoring program, H.E.N.S. (Helping Each Newcomer Succeed), while at the University. Selected to become mentors to the freshmen students, upperclassmen, in turn, obtain leadership skills outside the athletic environment.

The Student Services for Athletes program encourages students to use the same resources any other UD student can use, such as tutoring. More than 150 tutors are available to all UD students for academic assistance.

"Our goal is to avoid duplicating the other services on campus," Dr. Jordan, founder of the SSA program, explained. "Student Services for Athletes can help to obtain a tutor, and the program operates a study table five nights a week."

Staffed by interns and graduate students, the study table is a place where the student-athlete can complete class assignments, study for exams and meet with tutors when necessary. Attendance is mandatory for first-year scholarship students and can be required by coaches at any time in
a student's academic career. During this time, the student-athlete also can meet with an SSA staff member about academic concerns.

Staff also help the student-athlete with common scheduling and departmental exam conflicts, by taking an advocate role.

Workshops focusing on such subjects as career development, nutrition and wellness and academic topics are offered throughout the year.

Cooper, who now lives in Boston, is employed as a sales representative by Commonwealth Wine & Spirits. He says the job is competitive and goal-oriented and these aspects remind him of his college athletic career. The self-motivation and discipline he learned as a student-athlete at the University of Delaware have carried over into his career, he says.

-Gail Walford