Faculty liaisons to athletic teams provide support for student-athletes
Student-athletes are students first at Centre. The faculty liaison program, which began during the 2010-11 school year, is designed to strengthen the relationship between athletics and academics at the College.
Each athletic team has a faculty liaison — a faculty member dedicated to supporting his or her designated team.
“Here, students learn both in and out of the classroom — and part of that learning, for our athletes, takes place on the court (or on the field),” says dean and vice president for academic affairs Stephanie Fabritius, who serves as a liaison for the women’s basketball team. “It’s important to develop a strong relationship between academics and athletics, and to understand what it means to be a student-athlete. This enables us to all work together just that much better in educating the whole person.”
Faculty liaisons cheer on their teams at sporting events — but for many students, having a faculty member as a resource is just as important.
“I think the team most appreciates the knowledge that the College cares enough about them to provide the extra support they might need as athletes at Centre,” says volleyball coach James Neyhouse. “Having an advocate for their academics at Centre also means a lot — it tells the team that we not only ‘talk the talk’ about how important their academics are, we ‘walk the walk’.”
For many students, the liaison to their team represents the entire faculty in a meaningful way.
“It’s important that the faculty take interest in what their students do outside of the classroom,” says football coach Andy Frye. “The liaison creates a bridge between the faculty and the players — they’re approachable, they’re showing that they care about their students. There’s someone there they can talk to if there’s a problem, question or conflict that they normally might not be able to deal with.”
As for the liaisons, the experience has given them a better understanding of specific sports — and also gives them insight into what it takes to be an athlete at Centre.
“I think the program is great. I have learned a lot about field hockey — although I don’t quite ‘get it all’ yet,” says associate dean Beth Glazier-McDonald. “Further, as much as I love sports and know about them, I have really developed a greater appreciation and admiration for scholar athletes who give so much effort both in the classroom and on the field.”
Women’s soccer coach Jay Hoffman says that his team has benefited from the efforts of their faculty liaison, visiting assistant professor of chemistry Kerry Paumi.
“The fact that Dr. Paumi has gone out of her way to continue to show support means a lot to the players. The continual emails, the visits to practice and the fact that she supports us by attending both home and away games certainly builds that trust and personal relationship that Centre strives for,” he says. “By the time our first-years become seniors, they will have built a wonderful relationship with a faculty member and that certainly holds a lot of value.”
Anna Fuller ’13 knows that the field hockey team similarly appreciates the efforts Glazier-McDonald makes as their liaison.
“Having her at practices and games cheering us on brings a sense of unity between sports and academics. We feel as though the professors want to be involved with what we do outside of class,” Fuller says. “Since most people don’t know or understand the game of field hockey, it’s awesome that she comes and asks questions and tries to learn the sport we love to play.”