Wake up at 6 a.m. to do lifts until 7:30 a.m. then go to classes, then go to practice for three hours, and then somehow do homework. Tuesday and Thursday also includes a conditioning practice. In the beginning of the spring season, the team leaves Thursday morning to travel for games and does not return until Sunday night.
This is a typical week for Laura Wolff, a junior communication major who is also an outfielder on the Virginia Tech softball team. As a student-athlete, she has to meticulously manage her time to be able to balance her academics and her sport, which has games both in the fall and spring season.
To help students such as Wolff out, the Student Athlete Academic Support Services program has a system and resources to help athletes be successful in the classroom while progressing in their sport.
The SAASS office is located in the academic floor of Lane Stadium. Wolff said there are also multiple study hall rooms there, which freshman athletes are required to go to for a certain amount of study hall hours. Tutors and advisors are also available to assist the students as they learn to manage their schedules.
Their efforts have proven successful in recent GPA statistics of Tech’s athletes. According to Jermaine Holmes, director of the SAASS, the student-athlete body averages a 3.0 GPA, and 41 percent of them are even higher than that. In the fall of 2012, 140 student-athletes were on the Dean’s List.
Beyond the grades, Holmes said athletes learn many skills that can be applicable in a future work environment.
“Being a member of a team and working together, you have to have the ability to work with different people from different backgrounds, and I think that is key when you get in the working world to have the ability to communicate and interact with other people,” he said.
Holmes also said that competitiveness and determination are traits that could help a student-athlete launch into a successful career. Wolff tends to agree.
“We are used to pushing ourselves to the limit every single day in different ways whether it’s in class, in conditioning, and in practice, we’re ready for anything that you throw at us,” she said.
Athletes not only know how to compete, but they are used to hearing and responding to criticism, Holmes said. Their coach can simulate a potential boss in the future.
Since these students dedicate so much time to their sport, it is easy to forget that they must be more focused on their academics. To be eligible to be an NCAA athlete, students must have a certain GPA and meet benchmarks each year in the amount of classes that progress to their degree.