Baseball players prove graduation can be a balancing act for college student-athletes

May 17, 2022

Among Columbus State University’s 941 spring graduates were 33 student-athletes and graduate assistants representing 11 of the university’s 14 NCAA Division II sports teams.

For the most part, their seasons ended weeks or even months ago. For four members of the CSU baseball team, their seasons literally revolved around graduation events right in front of the Lumpkin Center ceremonies as the team vied for the Peach Belt Conference Championship at the stadium. CSU’s Burger King.

As CSU graduates showed up at all five of the university’s graduation ceremonies, four of the graduates ended up in the Ragsdale Field dugout. They included pitcher Jamie Boatright (who earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice), graduate assistant coach Perez Knowles (who earned a master’s degree in exercise science) and 3rd baseman David Meadows and center fielder Hunter Woodall (both of whom earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing).

Play ball? Walk to graduation? Baseball head coach Greg Appleton summed up the tough choice going through these players’ heads at graduation, and a potential conference championship title loomed.

“For these guys, school was very important with graduation as a goal,” Appleton explained. “However, baseball is just as important because it’s one of the main reasons they chose CSU.”

As the No. 1 seed in the four-team bracket, the Cougars’ playing schedules conflicted with the specific college opening ceremony everyone had to attend: College of Letters and Science for Boatright; Knowles College of Education and Health Professions; and the Turner College of Business for Meadows and Woodall.

The four had the opportunity to receive their diplomas as part of the 10 a.m. ceremony at the College of the Arts on Saturday, May 14, an hour that would not conflict with their ability to perform. In the end, Boatright and Woodall opted to attend the graduation, giving them the best of both worlds.

One of CSU’s starting pitchers, Boatright was relieved to be able to participate in both. “It was great to be able to walk to graduation and play in the playoffs,” Boatright noted. “I had family in town who really wanted to see me walk, but I wasn’t going to miss baseball for that because playing at this time of the season is so much fun and the games mean so much more.”

For Woodall, he didn’t want to miss the opportunity to participate in the graduation festivities.

“Being able to take that step at graduation and receive my diploma was a great feeling to show my family that the sacrifices they made to get me an education weren’t wasted,” Woodall mentioned. . “I can’t thank Jimbo Davis, my coaching staff and CSU enough for making the changes necessary for me to walk, it’s an experience I’ll never forget.”

According to athletic director Todd Reeser, student-athletes put in an abundance of academic time outside of the classroom and practice studying and getting help from teammates, teachers and tutors. For many, the average day starts as early as 6 a.m. and stretches past 9 p.m. as student-athletes bounce between workouts, classes, workouts, study halls, and games, which leaves little time for the social aspects of university life.

With their student status given priority, NCAA student-athletes must maintain a 2.0 grade point average to be eligible to compete. Managing the school’s training and game schedule sometimes means doing homework on the bus rides to and from sporting events, taking tests outside of assigned lesson times, and meeting with teachers after hours. offices assigned to them.

Even though the minimum GPA must be met, Reeser noted that student-athletes and graduate assistants ranked 20% higher than the rest of the graduating class this semester.

Finally, the Cougars played Sunday in the double-elimination tournament. They placed second in the 2022 PBC Championship and qualified for the 2022 NCAA Division II Southeast Regionals. The team travels to Wingate, North Carolina to face Belmont Abbey College in the first round of the tournament on Thursday, May 20.

Visit www.csucougars.com for team updates and tournament schedules.

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