The quiet psychology major has never talked to any of Corban’s basketball players. They miss so many classes because of games that their free time before and after classes is spent consulting professors about assignment schedules. At lunch, she wouldn’t be caught dead trying to strike up a conversation with them, because they always sit together, looking as comfortable as family.
Sound familiar? Many students say the “separation of worlds” between those who play intercollegiate sports and those who don’t is a very real part of campus life. But the athletes serving in student leadership this year say they’re not willing to accept the status quo. They’re using their Associated Student Body jobs to promote more connections between athletes and the rest of the student body – and they’re starting by clearing up miscommunication.
Josh Warner, a member of Corban’s baseball team as well as ASB vice president, has an enlightening perspective on this topic. He hopes that students understand that athletes don’t intentionally disconnect themselves from non-athletes. There simply is a huge time commitment that goes with being in a sport.
“We don’t feel above anyone else. If we seem like we are in a clique, it’s because it’s an easy in,” Warner says. “That’s the people we are around all the time. We want to reach out and get to know people. We truly do! But it has to be a two-way deal. I think a big part of this feeling is that there is a lot of misunderstanding.”
Men’s basketball team captain and ASB treasurer Paul Martin felt the disconnect last year and is eager to bring together the two “sides,” so to speak.
“It is so easy to go to school, then to practice, and then home for homework. I’ve realized that it has to be an intentional act in order to get to know new people. But, I think it is entirely worth it, and is important to strive for,” he says.
Martins hope is that being involved in sports and student leadership will allow him to bridge the gap between student groups. For example, he encourages students to show up as fans for athletic events, while he presses athletes to attend more non-sport campus events.
As a resident assistant in PVG, Katrina Kennedy has seen how hard it is for the female athletes in her hall to get to know others. She notes that they definitely feel stress in finding the balance of school, sports and their social lives.
When asked if athletes intimidate her, she says, “I am an outgoing person, so I am not personally intimidated, but I can see why there is a danger in people being intimidated by athletes.”
Though the “separation of worlds” has been identified, Warner has a strong belief that it doesn’t have to be as it has always been. All students have to go a little out of their comfort zones to break down the barriers between the groups, he says.
“Don’t be intimidated to say hello to the athletes during the normal school day. That is great!” he says. “Also, it is awesome being able to perform in front of our home crowd. We see who is in the crowds, and we appreciate it so much! It gives us excitement to play better.
“Even if you don’t know anyone on the team, just come! Don’t be afraid to stay after a game to encourage the athletes and tell them that they did a good job! We love that! And, right there is a conversation starter that could be the beginning of a great friendship.
“It’s the little things, like saying, ‘great job!’ or inviting us to your play or musical performance that can begin to create friendships.”