Story By Christina Cracolic, Assistant Director of Athletic Media Relations
GORHAM, Maine - Now that the University of Southern Maine students are a week and a day in to their 2018-2019 academic year, the Huskies' Athletic Department is continuing its successful, and mandatory for first-year student-athletes, "Study Hall."
With the many new challenges and adventures that face college-aged students during their first year away at a university, students that also choose to participate in intercollegiate athletics face additional and unique challenges. With the added travel for away games, practice and game commitments many student-athletes have to refine their time management skills in order to be successful. Student-athletes must also ensure their eligibility by maintaining a certain grade point average, and progress towards graduation.
Student-athletes at the University of Southern Maine are no different, and many of them are also balancing part-time jobs on top of full-time classes and team commitments. And while the adage "practice makes perfect" rings true for the jump shot or pitching wedge as well as the balancing act of the student-athlete, many first-year student-athletes may need some coaching to help them through the first hurdle of university life.
To help ensure a successful academic transition, Southern Maine's Department of Athletics requires first-year student-athletes to participate in a mandatory "Study Table" at the Learning Center in the Costello Sports Complex, requiring on-campus student-athletes to complete four hours of study time per week, while those student-athletes that choose to live off campus must submit two hours of time per week. Those hours are monitored by student-employees and directed by Head Softball Coach and Learning Center Coordinator Sarah Jamo. In addition to the dedicated space in the Costello Sports Complex, The Learning Center coordinates with Paul Dexter and The Learning Commons to facilitate scheduling tutors, and other key programming to help USM student-athlete be successful.
"Student-athletes who utilize the 'study tables,' and The Learning Commons are putting themselves in a position to succeed," said Jamo. "It's a great way to get freshman student-athletes used to the rigors of university coursework while adjusting to college life, and it is a chance for student-athletes from other teams to interact with each other. For many of our student-athletes it is their first time away from home and with all of the distractions college life can bring, in addition to the demands and requirements of being a student-athlete, it can be a challenge. Study tables help make good study habits, and in turn our student-athletes tend to be successful in the classroom."
Southern Maine's student-athlete success can be seen in its record number of Huskies earning William B. Wise Scholar-Athlete recognition later this fall. As part of the 31st Annual William B. Wise Scholar-Athlete banquet, 209 student-athletes will be recognized for maintaining a 3.0 grade point average or better while participating in a varsity intercollegiate sport during the 2017-2018 academic year. Last year, a then-record 177 Husky student-athletes were honored at the Wise Scholar-Athlete banquet and at the conclusion of the 2017-2018 academic year, the Department of Athletics as a whole achieved an outstanding 3.0 grade point average.
Much more than just four hours a week reviewing class notes or completing assignments, USM student-athletes use the Learn Center's "study tables" to not only create solid study habits in a relatively social setting, but they feel connected to the Athletic Department community, building relationships with other student-athletes, athletic department staff members and coaches. "Most of the coaching staff has an office adjacent to the study table area, and the student-athletes take advantage of having a strong support system around them," noted Jamo. "It should be mentioned that The Learning Center in Costello is open to everyone. While our first-year student-athletes are required to put in their time anyone is welcome to use the facility," added Jamo. "We're proud to host this facility, and of the academic success of our teams and student-athletes."
Open six days a week, the Costello Sports Complex Learning Center can be found brimming with student-athletes and non-athletes alike. "It's a place to meet and work on projects in a familiar environment, and its also a place to get to know the people who make up the Athletic Department," said junior Chantel Eells(Turner, Maine/Leavitt). Eells, a member of the Huskies' women's basketball team, works at the Learning Center as a study table monitor. She is on pace to earn her undergraduate degree in Social Work at the completion of this academic year and will be progressing into Southern Maine's Master's of Social Work program.
"As a freshman, you have to fulfill your hours to maintain your eligibility, but after a while you realize that you are getting more than four hours of dedicated study time," commented Eells. "The coaches and the staff are there to help, you get to interact with other student-athletes who are sharing similar experiences, and you feel more connected."
Costello Sports Complex Learning Center: Study Table Hours
Sunday: 2 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Monday – Thursday: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.