A Response To Colgate Professors', "Open Letter On Athletics At Colgate"

A Response To Colgate Professors', "Open Letter On Athletics At Colgate"

It's the first day of class and the professor has everyone doing the dreaded ice breaker: say your name, where you're from, why you want to take the class, and what activities you're involved in outside the Colgate classroom. As your turn to "break the ice" approaches, you decide whether or not to say you're on a sports team. It's a toss up between your Raider pride and your student reputation; your athletic passion or (what could very well be) your academic demise.

Don’t get me wrong—there are many Colgate professors who support our double status, but there are also some that don’t. For example, in the middle of my freshmen year, 63 professors decided to draft and sign a document entitled “An Open Letter on Athletics at Colgate.” The letter expressed concerns about the place and impact of athletics within the university—a university said to solely be “for the [fundamental] advancement of intellectual work and academic life.”

I soon realized that this—what I interpreted as the professors’ disapproval of my sport and athletic passion—was something I was going to have to deal with for the next four years. In sports terms, this was a knock down. But just as in sports, getting knocked down only means getting back up and fighting. And so here, my fellow student-athletes, are some fighting words for any of you who happen to find yourself in the ring with a professor this year:

Dear Professor(s),

I think I speak on behalf of most Colgate student-athletes when I say that we are students first and athletes second. In the letter, you express the idea that athletics has “created two cultures on campus” and that “athletes are often isolated because of the immense demands on us.” However, I believe that adding “athlete” to our status on campus does not make us any less of a student. In fact, I believe that it enhances our status as a student.

As athletes, we are disciplined. We must manage our time effectively, work endlessly, and learn efficiently. We are the ones who study the syllabus, checking to see if we will miss any classes, assignments, or outside lectures; we are the ones who come to office hours, asking for help in case we’ve happened to miss a class or two; we are the ones who build strong student-professor relationships because we spend so many hours in your office; and, although it may not be the most ideal study space, we are the ones opening our books on the bus most Saturday nights.

So, while you believe that the travel and the games and the early morning practice hours leave us “exhausted,” I believe that it leaves us with a set of skills and virtues that only students can acquire by being an athlete as well.

In your letter, you also recognize that “interscholastic athletic teams are no longer seasonal activities.” You say that we are “conscripted into yearlong programs of team-life, training and competition;" that “coaches often dictate an inordinate portion of our daily, weekly, yearly schedules” and because of these demands, “we are isolated … cut off from mainstream campus culture and academic life.” You are right in saying that our sports are now yearlong programs, but you are wrong in saying that our coaches dictate an inordinate portion of our lives.

We choose to play our sport because we are passionate about it. We have a drive, a desire, a dedication. We are self-motivated to be a better version of ourselves. We are self-reflective. We know who we are today and know who we want to be tomorrow, and will do whatever it takes to get there. We know who we are as individuals and who we are as part of something bigger than ourselves. We are not told who we are or what to do. We have our own inner drive that many college kids may not have.

So yes, you’re right when you say we aren’t like other college kids. You’re right when you say we are isolated and cut off from mainstream campus culture, but that is only because as athletes, we serve a wider community.

We know that we cannot participate in some of the mainstream campus culture that other students can because we know we represent something bigger than ourselves. We are role models to the kids of the community and representatives of our team, of our school.

In the end, we are some of the most self-aware, self-reflective and self-cognizant students. And isn’t that at the core of intellectual advancement?

In your letter, you also state that “Colgate, like the rest of the colleges and universities in the United States, was founded for one purpose—the higher education of it's students;" you say that “the time commitment among Colgate student-athletes has reached a place of excess that has resulted in an encroachment on academic life in ways that are at odds with the fundamental mission of education at Colgate.” I understand that Colgate was “founded for the purpose of higher education”, but I also understand that Colgate was founded by thirteen men with thirteen dollars, thirteen prayers, and an extraordinary mission in mind.

Colgate was not founded to be like every other college, or at least that is what I thought. I thought that we were unique in the sense that we were more than “the advancement of intellectual work and academic life.” I thought we were here to understand different human conditions, become diverse, help others, and be globally versed. I thought that we were here to be well-rounded people.

You see, to me, “higher education” is something more than just intellectual inquiry and scholarship. A “higher education” is one that encompasses both intellectual pursuit and athletic pursuit. Having a Division One Athletics program, attracts students who not only want to compete at the highest level of sports, but, more importantly, want to study at the highest level. We student-athletes came here because we ultimately didn’t have to make a choice between advanced academics and advanced athletics. Here, we are able to receive the best of both worlds.

Student-athletes give Colgate diversity. We are the ones who have been juggling our sport with our schoolwork our entire lives; we are the ones who know how to cooperate well with others, communicate clearly, and work hard; we are the ones who “get it”. We get that these are probably the last four years playing our sport; we get that we probably won’t go play professionally or make it to the big leagues; we get that. So, that is why we came to Colgate—a college where we are not only able to play our sport for four more years, but, more importantly, where we are able to get a good education that sets us up for the rest of our lives.

Which brings me to my last point … the rest of our lives. As athletes, sports will always be part of our lives. The key word here that many professors seem to miss is part. Sports will not dominate us or rule us or control us after college; they will simply be one part, one aspect of our lives. After college, we will go out and find “real jobs;” we will make it in the “real world.” So, when you say that athletics at Colgate “comes at a cost to personal growth and academic progress,” that athletics hinders our success in the world, I say that is not true.

Colgate graduates 99 percent of all its student-athletes. It ties for the number one graduate success rate in the Patriot League and ranks fourth in the nation, only behind Brown, Dartmouth, and Notre Dame. Has bred some of the most successful people I know. It has not only bred successful scholars, but successful professionals and leaders who have taken their education outside the intellectual realm.

Look at Bob Woodruff. One of the best lacrosse players to ever go through Colgate, who is now co-anchor of ABC World New Tonight. Look at Mark Murphy. A four-year starter for the football team who is now President and CEO of the Green Bay Packers. And even take a look at our own Vicky Chun. Vicky is now our Athletic Director. But first, Vicky played and coached Colgate volleyball for many years. She is the only female athletic director in the Patriot League and one of just 28 women leading a Division One athletic department. I’d say these former Colgate student-athletes did pretty well with the rest of their lives. And, if you give us the chance, I believe that you, too, will someday be able to say that we did pretty well with the rest of ours as well.

Sincerely,

Lexi Panepinto, A Proud Student-Athlete

Cover Image Credit: Lexi Panepinto

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Wishing Away your Childhood

Dear high school seniors... this ones for you.
Lauran
Lauran

Do you ever wonder what your life will be like after high school? Who will you be friends with? How will college treat you? Will you be working? Will you find the love of your life or stay with your current boyfriend/girlfriend? Will you be successful?

Like many, these are very few of the million questions that run through your mind. I am the same way when it comes to thinking about my future. 

When ever your mind starts racing about the future you feel your heart start beating and it’s as if the world fast fowards or all crumbles away. You begin to plan things to do and stress yourself out over the little things. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg... everyone always has something different lying underneath. Whether it’s a mental illness, disability, being bullied, not feeling good enough, or even a situation at home; that makes you feel this type of way. 

Dear High School Seniors, 

Your life after graduation will be something you could never imagine. It will no longer be clicks and popular kids, SNE kids and everyone else, cramming for tests, doing homework, partying on the weekends, going to your two day job, spending every afternoon at rehearsal or practice. 

Many of you wish to be out of school already. To be in college, married with kids, in a full blown career, or living the bachelor life; but why wish soon found experiences away. 

As you start your last semester of high school, my advice is to live in the moment. This is the last time you will see everyone you’ve grown up with. Enjoy all the “lasts” and make every moment a great one. Soon, your life will be changed forever. 

All of you are desperately wishing graduation would come faster, but trust me, you don’t want to waste this last semester. Go live your last moments of adolescence with the people you love and have known forever. 

Do not peak. Just live your life to the fullest and dont graduate with any regret.

You will no longer have the cafeteria fights, lunch table arguments, volleyball tournaments, BOTC, drama club shows, or salvage your phone battery for eight hours of a day. 

ALSO YOU SHOULD KNOW... 

"Your high school friends are going to make new friends, and so will you. No, this doesn’t mean that the friends you’ve had forever won’t matter anymore once you all go off to college. But it does mean that things will be different. You’re all going to have friends that the others only hear about from stories or tagged Instagram photos. Know that this is okay and don’t feel bad if you don’t talk to your high school bestie every single day. The realest of friendships are the ones you don’t have to maintain daily, but can always pick up right where you left off the next time you get together again.

Be friendly to everyone. You’re going to meet people everywhere: in the dorms, during class, from your sorority, and through drunken bathroom encounters at a bar. It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard about them, how they look on Facebook, or whose friend’s brother’s ex-girlfriend they are. You never know when you are introducing yourself to your next best friend. It’s more important to be known as the person who is nice to everyone than it is to be the person who’s quick to draw a circle around her group of friends. Form a crew, but don’t be cliquey. Hang out with people who help you have fun, but also who help make you a better person.

Your high school friends are going to make new friends, and so will you. No, this doesn’t mean that the friends you’ve had forever won’t matter anymore once you all go off to college. But it does mean that things will be different. You’re all going to have friends that the others only hear about from stories or tagged Instagram photos. Know that this is okay and don’t feel bad if you don’t talk to your high school bestie every single day. The realest of friendships are the ones you don’t have to maintain daily, but can always pick up right where you left off the next time you get together again.

Be friendly to everyone. You’re going to meet people everywhere: in the dorms, during class, from your sorority, and through drunken bathroom encounters at a bar. It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard about them, how they look on Facebook, or whose friend’s brother’s ex-girlfriend they are. You never know when you are introducing yourself to your next best friend. It’s more important to be known as the person who is nice to everyone than it is to be the person who’s quick to draw a circle around her group of friends. Form a crew, but don’t be cliquey. Hang out with people who help you have fun, but also who help make you a better person" (https://thoughtcatalog.com/bari-cutler/2014/05/dear-high-school-seniors-this-is-your-last-summer-before-college-heres-what-you-should-know/).

Stop wishing away your CHILDHOOD...

Sincerely,

The Girl Doing The Same Exact Thing.

Lauran
Lauran

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Alabama's 2018 National Championship Was An Instant Classic

It was an instant classic, no one was giving Alabama a shot at halftime.

The Alabama Crimson Tide beat the Georgia Bulldogs in an overtime thriller to win the National Championship. The game was an instant classic and one that people will be talking about for a long time. This game was a classic hard-nosed SEC game and it forced each quarterback to make plays with their arms.

Georgia QB Jake Fromm was able to find Riley Ridley on a lot of clutch plays for first downs. And yes, Riley Ridley is the younger brother of star Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley. The Dawgs went up 13-0 at halftime through a series of a few field goals and a touchdown.

The Crimson Tide had been silent on offense and Nick Saban needed to switch things up. Saban brings in true-freshmen Tua Tagovailoa to lead his team to victory. Tagovailoa had played during the season, but he never started or had a meaningful snap. Tua is a great dual-threat QB and it really showed in this game how he was able to beat the Georgia defense with his legs and his arm.

Tagovailoa took the Tide offense down the field and capped the drive off with a touchdown pass to Henry Ruggs to get within a one-score game. Georgia’s offense responded and Fromm threw a deep pass to WR Mecole Hardman to put the game at 20-7. Alabama needed a turnover, and that’s exactly what they got when Raekwon Davis picked off Jake Fromm off of a crazy deflection.

Bama needed a spark in the running game, enter another freshmen, RB Najee Harris. Harris was absolutely clutch in the 4th quarter, driving Alabama down the field while down 20-10. They were able to drive down again and kick a field goal to make it 20-13. The Tide drove it down to the 8 yard line but found themselves in a 4th down situation where they had to go for it. It was the biggest play of the game at that point. Once again Tua Tagovailoa delivered and threw a touchdown pass to who other than Calvin Ridley to put the game at 20-20.

The Bulldogs got the ball back but could not convert on 3rd down with 3 minutes left so they would have to punt. Alabama drove down the field and with 3 seconds left, had the opportunity to kick a 36-yard field goal to win the game. Kicker Andy Pappanastos had already missed a field goal in the game and the nerves got the better of him on this one as well, onto overtime.

The Alabama defense did well on Georgia’s possession, but their kicker Rodrigo Blankenship was able to make a 51-yard field goal making it 23-20 Georgia. Then came Alabama’s possession, and Tagovailoa was sacked to make it a 2nd and 26 from the 41 yard line. Out of nowhere, Tagovaila slings a pass to Davonta Smith down the left side for an Alabama touchdown and Alabama wins the game 26-23.

It was an instant classic, no one was giving Alabama a shot at halftime. The Tide came back with a true freshmen QB and was able to win the game in stunning fashion. And now we enter another debate, is Nick Saban the greatest coach of all time? You decide!


Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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