I recently quit my job. I had a tough choice to make: quit your job, quit your sport or quit your extracurriculars.
I chose my job, but some students aren’t as lucky and don’t have that choice. They have to keep a job to stay in school and that means quitting their sport.

I’ve seen other athletes in the nursing program forced to quit because their clinical times corresponded with practice and clinical times aren’t easily shifted it just doesn’t happen.

Last year, I produced a documentary called “INjured and OUT” about injured student-athletes who can’t play their sport anymore. From concussions to bad knees, athletes get injured every day and are forced to quit.

That project really opened my eyes to how important sports are to students.Sam tennis 1

What I’m trying to say is that I’m lucky. Along with the other 400-ish athletes on campus, I’m one of the fortunate ones that can shift my schedule around practices, lifting, physical therapy and competitions on weekends.

For a lot of people on the outside of athletics looking in, we are known as “determined,” “self-absorbed” and sometimes “clique-y,” but, to me, this group is amazing and the sacrifices student-athletes deal with everyday to keep playing is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

So, in the light of “athletes get special treatment” and “athletes act like they’re above the rules and better than everyone else” keep in mind the 3+ hours per day that athletes put in and the countless sacrifices they make to compete for this school.

Yes, athletes get some allowances with missing classes and getting to take tests at a later date, but chances are, he or she will still get less time than you to study for that same exam.

My goal isn’t to say that athletes deserve special treatment, but as someone who is a part of the arts and upper campus bubble as well as “athletics bubble.”

I know the stigmas and gossip about athletics. Those side-eye glares when an athlete needs more time to complete an assignment because they had a Friday-Saturday-Sunday competition need to stop.

It’s just not fair for student-athletes to be ashamed when they ask for help. Everyone needs a little help and support sometimes.
On the Women’s Tennis team, we’re constantly battling with practice and school work. We have had the highest team GPA since my first year, three years ago.

If anything, my team knows what it means to be student-athletes where the “student” comes first. That doesn’t mean we have it down to a science though.

The reason these girls have succeeded is because they ask for help (and, I’ll admit, drink lots of coffee).

Asking for help and not feeling ashamed to need it is the only way athletes can survive. If they’re being shamed by their peers, or their accomplishments aren’t appreciated, that’s going to hurt the Lute spirit.

All I’m asking is that you acknowledge what athletes do, how impressive they are, and maybe give them an “Attaway!” the next time you hear a team won a competition.

On the other end, the arts aren’t going unnoticed by us. As an athletics-wide initiative, each sport will attend at least one arts event and support other groups around campus. It would be great if we got some of that love back. I know every team would appreciate it.

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