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This semester I realized the complications and responsibilities of being a student athlete, and the time management one must obtain to be successful in a university setting. I meet with my student athlete, a member of our university’s basketball team, once a week for a half hour session. This student has been given special permission from his coaches and the Director of our writing center to use his fellow session as one hour toward his required study hall hours. The student practices several hours a week in and out of season and has started the official basketball season. Because he committed to having weekly meetings, we have been having difficulties finding time in our schedules to meet. I like to believe that I offer my students a fair amount of time per week to schedule an appointment so I was having trouble deciding if compromising my schedule for his was a fair decision for either of us. I set aside one extra hour per week in the evening to meet with this student specifically, a pretty big compromise!
By being an embedded tutor, I have the professor as a valuable resource in situations of this sort. Although we openly discussed the idea of compromise, she was very clear about not adjusting my schedule any further. She appreciated the fact that I was going out of my way to meet with a student when I didn’t necessarily have to. When she discovered that he was in season, she was very strong with her suggestion for me to not change my office hours for this student specifically, but I felt that it was only fair because he was in season. Throughout these last 15 weeks, our sessions have been getting shorter and he began to attend sessions unprepared. He has even gone as far as to ask me to email him a session report form showing that we had a session when he clearly did not attend.
At first I was struggling with the issue of authority; I felt bad telling him that I was not here to be his friend and that he must attend the sessions to get participation points for his course. By asking for the reports, he was basically asking for me to show credit for the program when he was not doing the work or gaining what he could from it. He is a strong student, but with the help of a fellow I think he could excel in the course. When talking with the professor about participation, she said there was no exceptions. She is a firm believer in school first, athletics second. She was able to see the issue first hand during this week’s class when he arrived to class late and then asked to leave for a pep rally. Although he felt that this was part of his obligations as an athlete, the date of the event was not discussed prior to the actual event day which is extremely frustrating. The student’s reasoning for leaving was that his coach was mad at him and he could not miss this pep rally. This is what sent the professor over the edge because she wanted to speak with the coach directly about not allowing her students to put academics first.
As we completed the last full week of courses, I received an email, yet again, from this student requesting I complete a summary report form for his session. He had not attended a session with me in about a month. I did not reply to his request, but I did see the professor outside of the classroom. We briefly discussed the issue at hand and she is now taking care of. Yet again, the question as to why the students do not use this resource arises. I guess the point of my reflection is to express how FRUSTRATING it can be to work with student athletes, and the expectations of the coaches whom I have never met. Any suggestions for working with athletes?