The role of a student athlete
The precise role of a student athlete has been debated between coaches, staff, faculty, students, athletes themselves and even the media.
The time commitments, grades and the overall conduct of varsity teams and clubs may be disagreed upon, but one thing is for sure: the student athlete is subject to a higher degree of responsibility than the average student.
While there is obviously a wide degree of diversity amongst the 20-plus teams and clubs on campus, there is no doubting the importance of athletics to the university as a whole.
“Athletics and recreation is integral to the mission of the university,” said Laurier’s director of athletics and recreation Peter Baxter. “Our student athletes are in the spotlight – they help brand the university through their performance, travelling and the media attention they get.”
What many fail to realize is that every student at the university, regardless of their involvement in athletics, pays fees to the athletics department. Half of these fees go directly to paying for the experience of the student athletes in terms of travel costs, facility time and sports medicine among other things.
According to Baxter, it is a privilege for an athlete to be named to the roster of a team and to have the support of the entire university behind them.
“They’ve earned the privilege by making the team,” said Baxter. “With that they have a great opportunity to have a very positive student life experience, but they’re here to be a student first and they have to balance things.”
Of course being a student athlete takes a great deal of hard work and that is exactly what these individuals have committed to do when they joined their respective squads.
“Balancing school, varsity and social life is somewhat of a rocket science,” said Laurier football captain Taurean Allen. “Juggling games, practices, workouts and schoolwork presents numerous conflicts that have to be identified ahead of time to make the proper adjustments.”
And what is the promising Canadian Football League prospect’s method of success? Self discipline.
“I surround myself with people possessing the same goals as I do,” said Allen. “I am dedicated to my future, so I make the necessary sacrifices to ensure my goals are attained.”
Although not all student athletes have their goals set as high as Allen, the attitudes and behaviour of each is consistent for the most part and they take their role on campus seriously.
“You are in the public eye, and when you are representing the university it is important that you take that responsibly and act in accordance,” said Baxter. “We want to make sure that Laurier is put into a positive light.”