Academic Adversities Of Athletes

On the ride home from her last basketball game, Erin Scruggs sits midway back on the dark bus.

As she listens to music her mind meanders to the occasional splurge of car lights waning and waxing past the bus, distorted by the clammy windows.

And while the excitement of the team’s most successful season still lingers, it’s a Tuesday and she has three tests tomorrow: Pre-Cal, Physics, US History.

Her athletic season might be over, but school doesn’t end until June.

Today students are told colleges want the well-rounded individual to facilitate their establishments. They expect to see applications complete with records of extensive club involvement, leadership, all-honors courses, and the cherry on top: a dedicated sport.

Under state law, to compete in a UIL activity, members can’t have a failing grade in a class, so coaches and parents alike urge their students to meet this standard.

“My dad has always pushed me to be the best that I can be,” senior Skye Catletti said.

Catletti said her family has had an active role in her success her entire life.

Athletes often have to miss school for tournaments and games, and while excused, these absences still affect their academic performance.

“When we have tournaments, we leave at like ten or even before that so those affect me. January is our busy month,” sophomore Paige Hollingsworth said. “We had term theme in January, and I got really behind in that.”

Student athletes have to be proactive with their educational responsibilities, which means meeting teachers on their own time or waking up earlier to attend tutorials in the morning, which don’t conflict with after-school practice.

“I always ask for my work ahead so I can turn it in the next day,” junior Shanna Fosnaugh said.

Fosnaugh said that step is key to keeping up in class.

Junior Dylan Huff has also had to go beyond what is expected of nonathletic students.

“Two Fridays ago I missed Pre-Cal, so I had to take a quiz before I would’ve gone to that class, and last Friday I was out the entire day,” Huff said.

Hollingsworth changed all of her core classes to periods that wouldn’t conflict with her athletic ECAs because she knew that her teachers would hold her accountable to the same time frame as her nonathletic peers.

“It’s frustrating because teachers don’t really give you any leeway because they expect you do the same thing [as other students] when you also have to keep up with your sports, too,” Hollingsworth said.

Teachers play a gracious role in the treatment of athletes who show willingness to excel in their school work, according to senior Ryan Murray.

“All my teachers work with me because they understand we’ll be gone a lot. They make sure you get caught up,” Murray said.

When it comes to planning their schedules, athletes also must keep record of how often they’ll be gone along and which classes might be too much.

“Some classes you want to be careful. If you know it’s going to be hard, you don’t want to take it because once the season starts, you’ll be gone a lot and you won’t have as much time to study,” Fosnaugh said.

Another concern is whether or not athletes can handle a heavy academic workload along with what they owe to their teams in effort.

“I signed up for Physics C, and now that I’m seeing how hard physics is getting, and I know how much I’ll be missing, I’m thinking about not taking physics C,” Huff said.

For Huff, the sacrifice is worth it. “It’s a sacrifice I like taking, it’s not like I like missing school,” Huff said, “but I’d rather be playing baseball.”