Student athletes

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Damarkodixon, Mar 8, 2014.

  1. Damarkodixon

    Damarkodixon Member

    Aug 2, 2013
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    Can someone offer any insight on what it is like to be a student athlete at the academy? (NCAA sanctioned not club sports)
  2. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    May 21, 2008
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    A lot will depend on the sport and what type of student you were in high school. Football for instance is officially practicing or playing their sport for almost 6 months. The next few months is weight room and conditioning. Then spring practice. Then a couple months of weight room and conditioning and then it starts all over again. Many other sports are similar.

    Yet, I know first hand of a number of student athletes who were able to pull off 4.0gpa semesters and graduate the academy in the top 10-20 of their class. Then again, these cadets have been combining a difficult academic schedule along with athletics for the last 4-6 years prior to even coming to the academy. So for them it was no big deal. They've already trained themselves how to manage their time for classes, studying, homework, training, playing, and conditioning. Along with some free time for their social life.

    In another breath, I know some athletes who struggled in high school trying to keep their grades up. Especially during their sport season. I've seen many of these individuals struggle at the academy. Some pulled it off. Some quit their sport and just went full time academics. Some couldn't manage their time and wound up getting kicked out because of academics.

    So the question shouldn't be what can others tell you about being a student athlete. You know how you did in high school. If you were able to excel at your sports, be one of the best players on your team, and still pull off a 3.9-4.0 gpa, then you'll probably do OK. If you think you had a difficult time in high school, then the level of difficulty is going to go up much more at the academy. Most teams have tutors and academic assistance who help the athletes out. But you're still the one who has to do the work. Between NCAA and Academy requirements, you have to be passing all your classes to remain eligible. If the academy puts you on academic probation, depending on the time of year of your sport, you may not be eligible to play until your grades have improved. Football players have the advantage of being one of the first sports of the year. They can usually get through 2/3 of the regular season before grades become an issue. Some basketball players aren't able to even start their season if their grades are too low.

    So again; judge for yourself how you did in high school and then at least double the the difficulty level. This isn't a regular college where you can take underwater basket weaving or time your more difficult classes for the off season. Even if you're a history major, you're going to take numerous engineering and similar type classes. And the academy schedules that for you. Best of luck.
  3. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

    Jul 26, 2008
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    A little personal perspective.

    I was the "three sport letterman" in high school, 4.0GPA (unweighted), after school job, yada yada yada. (I didn't know how to study, never had to...)

    On my SECOND attempt at USAFA I was appointed and I was a "walk-on" to the track team (indoor and outdoor).

    I loved it! Division 1 college athlete Steve!!! :thumb:

    I lasted a year and a few GPA of 1.97 didn't quite meet the NCAA standards but more importantly USAFA took me to a review board with the intention of tossing me out!! :eek:

    LONG story short: "EI" or "extra instruction" hours saved me...that and giving up NCAA athletics for squadron intramurals and a LOT more study time.

    And yet there were my friends and classmates with big "AF" letters on their athletic jackets and great grades. It is totally dependent on YOU and your ability to adapt to the rigors of the SA. I was a superb military specimen; no member of my class will argue that. I was a miserable student; no member of my class will argue that...well maybe the 106 folks lower in the graduation order of merit than I...

    USAFA '83
  4. melindayching

    melindayching Member

    Jun 27, 2011
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    My kid is a student athlete (an IC in USAFA parlance) and she has found that the schedule she keeps at USAFA is dramatically better, and she has more time to study, than in high school. Her academic classes are loaded in the morning and after lunch she goes to the gym. She's done in the gym by around 6, and depending on whether she has to go to the training room she has time to grab a quick dinner before Mitch's closes at 7. Sometimes she does miss dinner due to training room priorities, but she generally doesn't mind too much and keeps some things in her room to eat. She can be at homework by 7:30 or 8. In high school, she had school until 3:30, then went to practice from 4:30-8, then home for shower and dinner and homework wasn't started until 9. The hard part is traveling and finding enough time on the travel days to get her homework done and keep up with the classwork that she misses.
    The mantra for her is "EI, EI, EI..." "Extra Instruction" before and after travel days and every day in between that she can. It keeps her focused on her classes, ensures that she doesn't fall behind and lets the professors know that as an athlete she is serious about her studies. They often go out of their way to help her out. She is a C3C and an Academy Scholar. People ask her why she goes for EI so much since she does so well, and her answer is "I do so well because I go for EI as much as I can!" She also has a great coach who always lets the team put academics first and lets the kids take an "AC" day when they are feeling overwhelmed.
    As an athlete, you just have to know that academics is primo, above all else, and make the effort to take advantage of the resources available, like EI. If you've made time for sports all your life and did well enough academically to be admitted to USAFA, you can make it all work out as long as you are diligent and you stay on top of your work all the time, even when traveling. Yes, you have to be disciplined,but isn't that a trait you should have anyway as an Air Force officer? I once talked to my daughter's ALO during a particularly stressful time in her USAFA career, and he just smiled and said, "Welcome to the Air Force!"

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