For most students, the transition from high school to college can be difficult. For college athletes, that change takes on a whole new dimension.
While striving to improve in their respective sports, each student athlete also has to deal with the stress of time management and NCAA grade requirements.
For BYU softball players, getting ahead is vital to their success, both on and off the field.
To help them, the Student Athlete Academic Center (SAAC) on campus provides each student athlete with the support they need to be successful in the classroom and in competitions. Trevor Wilson, director of SAAC, said the academic center fulfills requirements by the NCAA for each Division I university to provide academic services for its student athletes.
“We can’t be in compliance with the NCAA and not have [an academic center],” Wilson said.
Wilson also said SAAC has more purposes than just fulfilling a requirement by the NCAA.
“From the beginning of February to the middle of March, [the softball team is] out about 18-20 days where they will miss class and so to just say ‘go on your trip and come back and take care of it’ doesn’t work, ” Wilson said. “They are going to need extra support.”
Senior Stacie Toney and sophomore Jenna Goar, both on the BYU softball team, are standouts academically. Both received academic honors from the Mountain West Conference last year, and finished the academic year with higher than a 3.5 GPA. They agreed that receiving academic help from the university is a huge relief with their busy schedules.
“Softball is on the road for seven weeks straight and we’re at school for Monday and Tuesday,” Toney said. “And then we miss Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, so a tutor definitely helps us.”
Goar said SAAC has been a great help with her daily studying.
“[My] freshman year I had to get six hours of study hall in a week at the SAB [Student Athlete Building],” Goar said. “And this year I don’t have to do study hours but I still go study at the SAB because that’s where I feel like I get help … and just having a quiet place to study is nice.”
While the services provided by the athletic department are helpful to student athletes, Wilson also believes providing these services for student athletes does a lot more than influence only the athletes.
“The athletic side of an institution, I believe, is important in carrying the message of an institution and representing the institution,” Wilson said. “The institution views this as a way to send forth their message and these athletes are where the rubber meets the road — they’re the ones doing it. So I think it’s very appropriate to offer these kinds of supports for our student athletes.”
Toney agreed student athletes have high expectations for themselves and want to represent BYU to the best of their ability.
“I think it’s just part of the athlete mentality, and our coaches and the whole athletic department really want us to go out and represent BYU well, so [putting academics first] is a big deal,” Toney said.
The BYU softball team has made it a team goal to put its academics first. They all have high expectations for their performances both on and off the field.
While Toney and Goar both plan on graduating with bachelor’s degrees, Goar also hopes to go on to receive a master’s degree in athletic training. Their advice to other student-athletes is to stay ahead in school and take advantage of the time students have in class.
“We are students first before we are athletes,” Toney said. “If we’re not able to get it done in the classroom, we don’t travel and we don’t play, so that’s definitely a priority as an athlete.”