Athletes are Students First

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For Janet Bailey, associate professor and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, student is the first word in student athlete for a reason. “They are not called ‘athlete students;’ you have to be a student before you can be an athlete” says Bailey.

Bailey teaches PED 326 Physical Education in the Elementary School; EDUC 351 Teaching Health and Physical Education in Middle and Secondary School; and supervises work internships and student teachers. Then, she leads the athletic department of GSC.

She is quick to point out that she has been blessed with an outstanding team. Amanda Frymier is Senior Woman Administrator and manages the budget with the oversight of the Athletic Director, Marcal Lazenby is the Assistant Athletic Director of Academics and Diversity and Compliance, and Jonathan Griffin II is the Director of Sports Media and Sports Information Director, just to name a few. And all of them, like Bailey, also have numerous other responsibilities on campus and in the athletic department in particular. It takes a city to run an athletic program.

Bailey’s overall vision is for her athletes to be more than a group of students playing their own particular sport. She views them as a network of athletes playing different sports and working together for common causes. They are constantly reminded that they are not here only to compete against other teams; they must have goals that benefit the community. Every year the teams do service projects like picking up trash or planting flowers. They worked hard on the Going Green initiative by placing the recycling containers in the PE Building and at Morris Stadium. Neil Schaffner, pitching coach, oversees emptying the containers in the bin behind Pickens Hall as well. Some teams go out and visit local schools, some visit senior centers, or plant trees, according to their preferences and talents. The culture of the athletic department at GSC is one of civic minded outreach. Feel free to call on the athletic department for muscle; just don’t forget that their hearts and minds are available too.

Bailey’s teams are always doing things for the greater good working together and supporting each other. She sees them as one entity rather than a splintered unit and they are there to support one another. Sometimes scheduling conflicts doesn’t allow them to attend every activity of a fellow athlete, but they do as often as possible.

Not only is having fellow athletes at events good for morale the best thing students and faculty can do to show support for our athletes is to attend games. The students notice who is in the stands, especially if they spot a professor, and it provides much needed encouragement. Or, when a faculty member takes a moment to send a commendation to the coach that can be shared with a student it can revitalize a team. These student athletes work hard for GSC and GSC needs to work hard for them.

The same is true for fundraisers. Fundraising dollars go toward operations, scholarships, and travel to competitions. The money they raise is absolutely necessary to the life of the program and in turn, the life of the school. Bailey and her team augment the fundraisers by writing grants.

Each coach is responsible for their own department and for their athletes on and off the field. They are assigned responsibility for these young people academically, physically, and emotionally. The motto of the Athletic Department is “2.3 or take a knee.” The student comes first, not the athlete and the fact that the majority of them graduate in fewer than ten semesters proves that Bailey’s philosophy breeds success –academic success.

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