Athletes work hard, make sacrifices to represent university

Chris Willis - Womens Volleyball Coach

Chris Willis – Women’s Volleyball Coach

In November, Auriel Brown pulled Pandora’s Box off the shelf and gave The Chart readers a small glimpse at a few issues existing among the student-athletes at Missouri Southern. Both her article and the accompanying editorial cartoon, addressed the clothing habits of athletes at our university. The topic stirred an immediate reaction from many throughout campus.

I did not write to support or challenge Brown’s opinions, but to open that box a little farther to allow people to realize there are many more “hot-button” topics related to athletics and the University community. If we can open our minds to these topics, and learn to view them from both sides of the table, we will be better prepared to form our own opinions.

Having been exposed to a wide spectrum of college athletics over the past 19 years, I have observed a variety of subjects that have raised the ire of athlete and non-athletes alike.

“Athletes are spoiled. They get preferential treatment in the classroom.”

“Why does he/she get a scholarship for playing a game?” “The school pays for them to travel all over the place.”

“I never see (insert student-athlete name here) in my class.” “They think they are better than everyone else.”

These statements get blurted out by individuals who have limited exposure to student-athletes and who have probably not spent a day in their shoes.

I coach the volleyball team at Missouri Southern and would like to give you an idea of a typical day for one of my players.

7 a.m.-7:30 a.m. – Breakfast

7:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m. – Training room for rehab

9 a.m.-1 p.m. – Attend class (lunch between classes)

1:30 p.m.-2 p.m. – Get taped for practice

2:15 p.m.-5 p.m. – Practice

5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. – Lift weights

6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. – Dinner and


7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. – Study hall

11 p.m. – Sleep

On many weekends, the team is traveling for competition, taking the athletes away from class, family and friends. As you can see, balancing the athletic, academic and social spheres of life can be quite difficult for any student-athlete competing at the college level.

I am not looking for pity on behalf of my players. There are dozens of students on our campus holding down two jobs, or taking care of multiple children, and trying to get their degrees without the fanfare afforded to many of our athletes. They deserve our respect and admiration for what they are accomplishing.

What I would like to see is an understanding of what many of our student-athletes endure for the love of competition. Speaking for the volleyball program, there isn’t one player who receives a full athletic scholarship. In fact, there have been several who have received no financial aid at all from the athletic department.

Sacrifices are made in many ways when it comes to participating in intercollegiate athletics. While roommates are sleeping in, many athletes are working out at the behest of their coach. While their families are heading to the lake for a Labor Day vacation, they are preparing for the next match. And, while many of their classmates have the time to dress up and look nice for the day, my athletes are just getting out of the weight room, sprinting across campus to make it to macro-economics on time.

Each time our student-athletes step on to the court to compete, the university is asking them to represent us in a first class manner with no less than 100 percent effort. They have poured out their sweat and sacrifice to perform their very best. Their dedication should be respected and admired. In turn, each student at Southern demonstrates similar dedication and sacrifice, but every student is not held to the standards of hundreds of fans in the stands.

As it is your right to form opinions about people and events on campus, I hope you will always consider the circumstances of those involved before coming to conclusions or making judgments. Athletics at Southern is an integral part of our campus and the Joplin community. Southern athletes strive to compete on the court as well as in the classroom to represent the best of what our university has to offer.