How is it that so many college student-athletes go through 4 years of college and still struggle to find success in jobs outside of sports? Well College of the Canyons has a very helpful approach that is helping these students overcome that.
College of the Canyons addresses this issue by making all of the student- athletes spend at least 28 hours in The Learning Center (TLC). There have have tutors available for almost every general education course and even a few other classes. They also have their own counselor there who they can talk to anytime the TLC is open.
One the of people who is always there to help is assistant football coach and student-athlete academic mentor, Matt Crater, is there to help any student- athletes in the TLC with school work or questions with stress relating to school or sports.
He also helps students stay on track with their school work and making sure they are not only prioritizing sports. It’s a huge problem nowadays as many former student-athletes primarily focus on their sports and fall behind on school.
The TLC is not only for athletes, it is available for any registered students each semester. Students just have to register for the class for free although is not a class therefore you do not get any credits.
The student-athletes also have their own counselor named Albert Loaiza who helps make sure students are on path to graduate and fulfill any requirements they need for the schools they want to transfer to.
This is so important because with the amount of focus the kids put on sports, they can sometimes neglect taking a full load of classes. With your own counselor, the athletes do not have any excuse to fall behind in credits.
When they have these meetings, whether it be with Crater or Loaiza, they try to make sure the main focus is academics. They understand the importance of sports for these kids but they make sure these kids are students first and athletes second.
Many athletes such as track and field and cross country runner Diani Ellis find COC’s focus education helpful to her long term future.
“I have learned to balance my school with sports equally, without sacrificing success in either,” Ellis said. “I am very happy I decided to attend College of the canyons because I learned that approaching counselors is not intimidating and they are not only willing to help but they want help.”
Ellis is a state champion in the 300 meter steeplechase but she still feels that the biggest improvement she has made this semester is her study habits she learns through tutors at the COC.
During the 2017 athletics hall of fame in January, College of the Canyons Athletic Director Chuck Lyon, talked about how having someone like Crater doing what they do is what sets our school apart from other community colleges. It gives the kids an edge over other athletes, not on the field or court, but in their lives after college.
The coaches also encourage students to see the counselors whenever they feel like they are struggling or falling behind in any of their classes.
The College of the Canyons head soccer coach Philip Marcellin has an open class period where he allows all of his players to come in and study with each other ask questions and talk about any stress they are going through.
“I want my students to learn what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Soccer is an important part of their lives but they can’t assume that they are all going to be professional soccer players,” said Marcellin. “The most rewarding is running into former players of mine who now are successful in their lives because of something I taught them.”
He also said that most people who who he sees later in life have nothing to do with soccer but other things they studied in school.
Many athletes put their focus squarely on sports for 2or sometimes even four years and feel like they learn nothing in class room or any study habits. It isn’t uncommon for athletes to not graduate.
Melanie Abzun, a player on the College of the Canyons softball team, talked to me about how she understands that softball is not going to in her life forever but she has other plans and is taking the proper steps to conquer all her career goals. This way if thinking is often looked down upon by many universities because they put too much focus on their athletics.
There was recently an interview in ESPN where Seattle Seahawks cornerback said while he was attending Stanford University, a school highly touted for their education, he was told by coaches that he was there to play football not go to school. This is the opposite approach COC has with their students and is an ineffective method for any school.
An anonymous football player at Antelope Valley College, who came to California from Florida, said that he felt he was used by the Antelope Valley coaching staff for success in football program.
Luckily for athletes here they do not have to worry about that kind of stuff. The College of the Canyons athletes feel that the coaches here genuinely care about them as an athlete, student, and person. The support is not only with the coaches but also counselors and also with their teammates.
The coaches and counselors try and reach their students in ways they like to prefer such as twitter. They tweet about important for their students as well as important opportunities for them. This may not seem like a big deal but it shows that they will go to any length to relate to these kids and do whatever they can to help them.
If other junior colleges followed the same way of mentoring and informing their student-athletes the same way that College of the Canyons they could have the same success in helping their student-athletes transfer out to four-year schools or get associate degrees that can help them get jobs on the careers they want.