As much as I wanted to take a Spring Break from blogging, I just couldn’t let this special moment pass without comment. But I’ll try to keep it short and sweet.
For the record, I’ve resisted the temptation to post about basketball all season long. And it hasn’t been easy for this ex-jock, MU hoops fanatic. Talk about unexpected. Who saw the success of our 2012-13 squad coming? Not me, that’s for sure.
At this point our record stands at 23 wins and 7 losses, we’re regular season co-champions of the historically formidable Big East conference, and we’re ranked 12th nationally. Our team is more than a pleasant surprise; they’re for real. Chalk it up primarily to heart and hustle, because we’re not steeped in star power. And the coaching staff deserves credit for a great job of teaching. (Hey, this is an educational blog after all).
But get this. What I’m going to report has nothing at all to do with the game, even though our team played its best ball of the year in a beatdown of our Catholic arch rivals, the Fighting Irish. So don’t bother looking for references to flashy no-look passes, lightning fast crossover dribbles, or a clutch three-pointers.
Instead I want to highlight a single remark made by one of our players after the game. You see, it was Senior Night, and guards Junior Cadougan (who really came into his own this year) and Trent Lockett (my personal MVP for reasons I’ll happily explain to anyone who wants to know) were being honored.
Keep in mind that I might not have this exactly right, because the statements caught me off-guard. But I’m pretty sure that the very first people Junior thanked were not his family or his coaches or his teammates or the fans.
He led by thanking the staff of the Eagle’s Nest, the Marquette professionals who provided him with academic support! In other words, he publicly acknowledged his study hall tutors and counselors — folks like Adrienne Ridgeway, Meryl Frank, and COED alumni, Maureen Lewis and Katie Simet, along with the center’s dedicated director, Tom Ford. Score a big one for a student-athlete who expressed sincere gratitude for the educational scaffolding he had received.
Coincidentally, I’d attended an event about a week earlier where I learned about the support services that are available to all of our Marquette student-athletes. I was truly impressed with what I heard and saw, and it helped me to understand one big reason why our MU athletes have such a great collective GPA and graduation rate, something I’ve written about previously.
And for a real treat, click here to check out a terrific CNN video done last year that highlights Marquette’s commitment to the academic success of our student-athletes.
At any rate, my guess is that Junior’s well-deserved shout out was pretty much lost on most of the crowd who remained for the post-game festivities. But it definitely wasn’t lost on me.
As a veteran educator and someone who knows firsthand the challenges of attaining academic excellence while competing, I want to give the Eagle’s Nest a shout out of my own.
Reader’s Note: The Athletics Department’s study program assists student-athletes, recognizing the significant amount of time and effort they devote to class, practice, and competition. Tutors are available in specific course areas based on the freshmen/sophomore curriculum. Students can also make arrangements for tutoring in other courses including upper division offerings through a formal request they make or their instructors make.
To monitor student-athlete progress in the classroom, reports are solicited from instructors two times during each semester. When instructors indicate that tutoring should occur, the student-athlete meets with Eagle’s Nest staff to make accommodations.
Attendance is mandatory for all first-year student-athletes, and they are required to stay enrolled until their GPAs reach 3.0 (by the end of the first semester). Afterwards they must maintain at 2.5 to opt out of study hall. Upperclassmen are assigned Academic Center hours to work with individual coaches as necessary. The Academic Center also provides writing assistance through the MU Writing Center, as well as access to laboratory PCs and laptops that can be checked out.