Varsity Athletics, To Time Consuming ?

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by Northstream, Aug 8, 2011.

  1. Northstream

    Northstream Member

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    Do MIDN suffer an academics challenge/penalty if they play varsity sports? Good GPA, more choices, lower GPA, fewer/less desirable choices?
     
  2. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    Many mids who graduate in the top 100 in their class play varsity sports. I knew one who was an Academic All-American in 3 sports. Each mid has to determine whether he/she can handle the academic load and military requirements along with the travel and training requirements of a varsity sport.
     
  3. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    This is all depends on who you speak to and their experiences on this answer. The sport one plays, their ability for time management, health (this factors into how much time you spend in the training room - this can be hours each day if injured), and goals all can influence this answer. As you can tell I was a basketball player. I had different room mates nearly every year at USNA. None of them were varsity athletes. Every one of them at the end of the school year stated that they had no idea how much time it took for me to play basketball. Now remind you that basketball has an incredibly long season (we go in season in Oct and usually finish up in March). We also play 30+ games a season.

    My grades definitely did suffer as an athlete, but that is not the whole story. I learned so much about myself, time management, prioritizing, followership and leadership as an athlete that I was a better officer because of it. There is just not school to think about when deciding to play a sport or not. Depending on the sport you can sacrifice a great deal of liberty time to practice and games and also leave periods too. I missed every Thanksgiving, almost all of Christmas and all of Spring Break every school year due to basketball. Alot of athletes also give up a great part of their summer breaks to train and help out at camps (if you read recent articles about the football team you will notice this). But on the plus side we get team tables, get away from the yard, miss some drill, travel the country, and get a chance to represent the greatest academic institution in America wherever we go. Some Mids resent athletes and some athletes deserve it. It took some effort on my part to ensure I was involved in the company whenever possible. I was lucky enough to earn stripes my firstie year, but it was quiet a load between classes, basketball and my military obligations.

    Sorry for the long response, but obviously this is a topic I am pretty passionate about. It all depends on what you want to get out of your academy experience and how you handle it. I would never trade my experiences as a basketball player at USNA!
     
  4. Northstream

    Northstream Member

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    Choices at Graduation

    Thank you for the input. If a plebes grades suffer, are the choices for career path diminished? Are there factors besides GPA and rank [ battalion commander, ect.] that are used to determine a graduates place in line to choose his or her path.

    There are a set number of slots for med school,flight school, buds. Do athletes get a fudge, a handicap,like in golf? In recognition of the more difficult path chosen?
     
  5. tedsnyder63

    tedsnyder63 Member

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  6. osdad

    osdad Member

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    If you could look at the majors taken by varsity athletes (Navy does not list them on the rosters) my guess is that you'd see many more in Economics than Aerospace Engineering.

    (At least it's not Big State U - forget which - where ALL of the baseball team majored in basket weaving or some such piece of cake major.)
     
  7. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    There is more than just GPA and class rank that goes into determining your future service assignment. Fitness reports from summer training, service selection interviews, and many other items are also factored in. Our #1 grad from my class washed out of BUDS very quickly. We also had a football player who was selected for SEALs and did very well at BUDS and is still on active duty today. So as you can see, class rank and GPA does not always equate to success in schools and the fleet. As a basketball player we spent so much time in season and on the road our officer representatives from the team also wrote fitness reports on the players. This provided another perspective for leadership to look at. In some ways the o-rep had a true picture of a player more than anyone. They truly see how someone leads on a daily basis, follows orders from coaching staffs, how they handle stress on and off the court/field, mentorship to younger teammates, represent the Navy when away from the fish bowl of the Annapolis, volunteering in the community, etc.

    I would not say the Academy handicaps athletes when selecting service assignments. Just like the admissions board, the service selection committees look at the "whole Midshipmen" and select who they think is best equipped to lead and succeed in future service assignments.
     
  8. 2012mom?

    2012mom? Member

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    A good GPA does help in getting the service selection you want, but it's not the only factor. A Mid's Overall Order of Merit (OOM) is an important factor in their Service Selection. OOM is your overall class rank, and it's determined by a combination of your academic GPA (~65% of the OOM), your military fitness, and your physical fitness. The physical fitness score is a combination of your PE grades (not an easy "A" as at State U), and your PRT (fitness eval) scores from each semester. Military fitness is, in large part, based on your company officer's evaluation, especially 4/C and 3/C years. Depending on the area of service you want, there may also be interviews, and you probably would have a related training block prior to Firstie year, during which you would probably also receive an evaluation.

    If you're a varsity athlete, your company officer evaluation might not be so great, unless you really prioritize company participation whenever possible. That might be balanced out by a great o-rep eval.

    GPA itself would probably have more importance for some service selections that others. For instance, to be selected for subs (or nuke SWO), you have to be seen as someone who can make it through nuke power school, which is roughly equivalent to getting a Master's in nuclear engineering. If you are barely making passing grades at USNA, your chances of getting that selection are probably not good.
     
  9. 2014sponsor

    2014sponsor Member

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    Isn't there an add-on to the GPA for certain sports and clubs? My impression was that there was, and that in the past there was stacking of those add ons allowed.
     
  10. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 Parent

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    You can always cite a few scholar athletes - but I think it is fair to say that the varsity athletes at the Naval Academy, as a group, do not do as well academically as the non-varsity athletes. Part of the reason is that varsity athletics takes up a tremendous amount of time. The academy is very mindful of that and that is why these athletes get a lot of perks. For instance, if you're on the football team, you will never march! Never!. There are many functions that you will never have to attend. In fact, even if they are not officially excused for a particular event, their company is so conditioned to having them excused, their absence is not even noted. If he's not in formation, everybody will just shrug their shoulders ... and that's if they even notice in the first place. They just assume he does not have to be there.

    Another reason they do not do as well is that many of them entered the academy without the standard academic credentials in the first place. They were recruited athletes and some latitude was extended to them for minor academic shortcomings. This is why NAPS is mostly an athlete prep school.

    SWO is one of the least popular of all the service selections, yet, that is where the vast majority of football players go. Why? Because they all have a passion for ships? No! It's because their class standing pretty much dictates that service selection.

    I'd have to say the following is true:

    Although there are many perks associated with being a varsity athlete, in the final analysis, it is only class standing that matters. Missing all those classes and the long hours of practice take its academic toll over the four years.

    An athlete in a Group I (engineering) major is about as common as a 4-leaf clover. Heck, it's somewhat rare to even have a Group II (technical) major.

    Oh sure, you can point out an occasional starting linebacker who is majoring in Electrical Engineering and making a 3.4 ... for every one of those you cite, I'll cite many more that don't even come close to that profile.

    Also, there are some "varsity" sports that are barely one notch above intramurals. I wouldn't even include them in this discussion. Varsity squash. varsity pistol. Pfft! I assume we're talking about real varsity sports.

    Varsity athletics (i.e. football, basketball, baseball, lacrosse) is a time sump and is incompatible with superlative grades.

    Varsity athletes have a completely different experience during their four years at the Naval Academy than your generic, non-varsity midshipman. It's almost as if they're going to a different school.

    In the end, it is the non-varsity athlete who gets the last laugh come service selection time.
     
  11. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Memphis, I agree with some of what you are saying, but not all of it. Yes as a whole I agree varsity athletes do not necessarily do as well as non-varsity athletes academically. When I was a mid all varsity athletes did march commissioning week, that included football players and my team mates on the basketball team. But we did miss the majority of parades during the fall and spring. We did attend all lectures, training events, and other requirements. I believe this is true for all varsity athletes. And as a "real varsity athlete" I can say yes our companies are used to us not being around and usually chalk up our absence to the team. What folks do not see, and to be honest shocked my room mates, is our travel schedule. Traditionally the two basketball teams miss more class and travel more than anyone. We are not like the football team who has 5-6 away games a year and travel by charter plane (that normally returns right after they play on a Saturday night). We can play 5-6 away games in a 2-3 week span. I can remember returning from road trips at 0200-0300 in the morning a few times every month. Yes, we were authorized to miss morning formation, but not authorized to miss class. So we would catch a few hours of sleep, make it to class and return to practice after classes. We pretty much reach zombie state during Patriot League play. I remember plebe year missing every single Nav Sea class for the first three weeks of second semester of plebe year. That isn't a class someone can really learn from reading some book, not to mention trying to do charts on a bus!

    I also disagree with the notion that the vast majority of the football team goes SWO. Don't quote me on stats, but I actually believe nearly half of the recent classes are going Marine Corps these days. I do agree that sports are a time consuming activity and grades suffer. I was not a great student at Navy, but not horrible either. I did graduate with honors when I did my Masters degree and thought that was 100 times easier than my classes at Navy. I think in part that shows how tough Navy's academic standards are and also how well I could do academically when not spending every free moment concentrating on basketball. To this day (and that includes multiple deployments as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan), I have never been as busy as I was as a mid varsity athlete. A varsity athlete, just as any mid, can make their experience what they want at Navy. I always lived with non-varsity athletes to help provide some sanity and reality to things.

    Also a key point that is not mentioned is that just because a varsity athlete may not be a stellar mid, does not mean they will be a bad naval officer. I had a football player company mate who was a horrible mid. He fit the model of a "$&*@ bird varsity athlete." He was honor grad from the infantry officers course and has earned a handful of bronze stars as a highly regarded Marine Corps infantry officer. Not all athletes end up being amazing officers, but I think they are on par with non-varsity athletes when they hit the fleet.
     
  12. Northstream

    Northstream Member

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    This discussion has been very helpful, PPW has given me an opportunity to share this with my plebe.

    It would seem the plebe needs to determine what class rank they need to gain a chance at their principle career path. Einstein can get into SWO but, a 2.0 won't get you into Nuke School. If SWO is what you want, GREAT! But if nuke school or flight school is your choice, prioritize.

    Thanks again, I truly appreciate the candid input.
     
  13. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 Parent

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    Both my sons (twins) were very talented high school pitchers. They even attended the Naval Academy baseball/leadership camp their sophomore year. The coach clearly had some interest in them and some of the assistant coaches even kept contact with the boys throughout a portion of the application process.

    As it turned out, they did not get recruited for baseball, after all. But I told them this, "If you do end up getting recruited - once you get to the Naval Academy - don't play varsity baseball!" Unless baseball is more important to you than your grades and your service selection - it's not worth it.

    That's the beauty of a service academy, nobody is on a scholarship in the conventional sense. At a civilian college, if you are on an athletic scholarship and decide to quit - you lose your scholarship. Not so at a service academy!

    I have to admit, I am biased on this topic. I was recruited for baseball as a midshipman. I remember very distinctly getting a 2.94 GPA my first and 2nd semester Plebe year. I was stunned! (I know many would say, "What's so bad about that? But I had much higher aspirations and expectations than to be "average".) For the first time in my life I didn't even have a 3.0 GPA. I knew what the problem was, too. I was at the baseball field when I needed to be studying. Of course, I aggravated the situation by majoring in Aerospace Engineering. My Youngster year - I just knew I had to quit. I remember hiding from the coach in the bullpen and studying for a Differential Equation test. Coach Duff would've killed me if he knew.*

    I eventually decided to quit baseball (I really wasn't all that good, anyway). My grades skyrocketed! Despite my sub-3.0 Plebe grades, I ended up graduating with an overall 3.5.

    Missing classes and long practices did not make up for the few parades and formations you miss.

    * I can't pass up a good Coach Duff story. One of the "good deals" is that athlete Plebes get to sit at T-tables (Training Tables). They didn't have to sit with their squad. They ate relaxed meals with their teammates. In my day, meals could be miserable for Plebes. This is when they got grilled by the upperclassmen for their "rates." You didn't dare go to the table without knowing your rates cold. When baseball was in-season I started sitting at T-tables. The next day, my squad leader asked me where I was for evening meal. I reminded him that I was at baseball T-tables. He said to me, "You will eat with your company mates!" The next day at practice, I told Coach Duff that I would not be eating with the team because my squad leader ordered me to eat with my company. I was thinking that he would definitely "fix" this. His answer? "Don't come to me with your Bancroft Hall problems!" I don't think anything like this would ever happen these days, however.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2011
  14. mademu

    mademu Member

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    These days the coach would coddle them and get the company officer and batt-o involved.
     
  15. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Actually the coaches who do their jobs right have the team Captains or other firsties on the team go and talk to the other Mids to find out what the deal is. If that doesn't work, then the Officer Representative will normally step in, well because that is what they are there for. Just like the fleet... deal with it at the lowest level possible.

    Northstream, good luck to your son. I hope Plebe Summer went as smooth as possible and he is ready for the Ac Year. I think it took me about 2 weeks to realize they were right... Plebe Summer is easier than the Ac Year. If he truly wants to play a sport I hope he gives it a shot and see how the work, academic, life balance goes. Never want to live life saying would of, could of, should of! Plus he will realize pretty early on if he is good enough to compete at that level or not... that usually spreads out the pack pretty quickly. There are just as many great examples of Midshipmen student athletes excelling on and off the field/court as there is not. It is hard to do, but he didn't choose the easy path when he picked Navy anyways, so I am sure he is up for the challenge!
     
  16. MIDNDAD

    MIDNDAD Member

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    You are correct. This is something your Mid needs to determin for himself. The balance beween, Company duties/leadership, sports team, and academics is all about time managment and determination. The lifelong friendships that come out of being part of a very tight knit sports team are worth a lot in the greater scheme of life. My former Mid gave up sleep time to make everything work. If sports are important to your Mid he will find that balance on his own.
     

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