My husband Andy had a passion to play baseball growing up. His parents gave him every opportunity to gain valuable experiences to get better by way of camps and coaches every year. This week, high school kids are signing scholarships with colleges across the country as result of the same kind of support from their schools, coaches and parents. Andy often talks about the opportunities baseball gave him. One of my favorite stories is about his opportunity to travel to Australia to play on a team before he graduated high school. While he was gone, he received a scholarship offer to play baseball for the University of Alabama. The irony of the story is that shortly before his scholarship offer, he had received a letter from the University that he wasn’t accepted academically. From Andy’s experience, I would offer these tips for the student athlete:
- Don’t blow this opportunity. Most kids are not athletes and can only rely on academics to receive scholarships to go to college. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the social side of college but remember that your job as a student athlete is to balance your time on the field with the work needed to succeed in the classroom. Get your degree.
- Being a student athlete is your job. Treat your responsibilities as if they were your full time job because they are. You will have to be especially careful to manage your time doing what your coaches need you to do to be the best athlete possible but still juggle your classwork. Don’t be lazy. Communicate with your professors about any days you will have to miss class and be prepared to make up any missed work and/or obtain notes you will need for the class.
- Surround yourself with good people. Don’t listen to the hype about yourself. Remember that you will be a role model for others and you try to make good decisions especially when it comes to drugs and alcohol. We have all heard of student athletes who lose it all to because of drugs and alcohol. Keep this in mind when you are out and about daily. Listen to your parents—they have your best interests at heart.
- You are not a dumb jock. Do not rely on the expectations of a college athlete as being a dumb jock. Be early. Be prepared. If you are perceived as responsible and reliable from the start, when you are late or make a mistake, you will have created a margin for error. Make an effort to make friends outside of your small circle of teammates and coaches. Doing so will make you a better person.
- Be a team player. While most kids who receive athletic scholarships are the best in their high school, when they go to college, they are just one of many best players. Remember that while you may be benched behind the senior quarterback, your opportunity will come. Look at players like Blake Sims or Jake Coker! In the meantime, work hard and do not give up.
Now to brag on my husband, Andy was admitted to the Alabama bar in 1998. He received his B.S. in Business Management from Troy State University in 1994, and a J.D., magna cum laude from Jones School of Law in 1997. While in law school, Andy was an inaugural member of the first Law Review Board. He is a member of the Alabama Bar Association, the Montgomery County Bar Association, and the Alabama Defense Lawyers Association. Andy has achieved an AV attorney rating as evaluated by Martindale-Hubbell. His practice is in general litigation, coverage analysis, construction defect litigation, property management litigation, commercial litigation, manufactured home litigation, pest control litigation, dram shop liability and general insurance defense.
In addition to his legal practice, Andy is a member of the YMCA Camp Chandler Advisory Board, member of the Jimmy Hitchcock Award Committee, active member of First Baptist Church, and helps coach girls softball.
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Gail Hughes Donaldson is a Managing Partner of the Bond & Botes Law Offices in Montgomery and Opelika, Alabama. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Auburn University at Montgomery, and a Juris Doctorate from Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. She’s been helping families work through the bankruptcy process since she started with Bond & Botes back in 1993 as a paralegal. Read her full bio here.