GORHAM, Maine - Three weeks into a new look 2020-2021 academic year at the University of Southern Maine and Husky first-year student-athletes are finding their way to the Costello Sports Complex to fulfill their mandatory athletics' "Study Hall."
Already facing many new challenges and adventures during their first semester as collegiate students, including COVID screening, enhanced social distancing measures and online classes, students who choose to participate in intercollegiate athletics face the additional hurdle of time management as they fulfill their commitments in the classroom and to their teams to ensure they maintain their academic eligibility and progress towards graduation.
Student-athletes at the University of Southern Maine are no different, and many of them are also balancing part-time jobs on top of full-time classes and team commitments. And while the adage "practice makes perfect" rings true for the jump shot or pitching wedge as well as the balancing act of the student-athlete, many first-year student-athletes may need some coaching to help them through the first hurdle of university life.
To help ensure a successful academic transition, Southern Maine's Department of Athletics requires first-year student-athletes to participate in a mandatory "Study Table." Typically required to be recorded at the Learning Center in the Costello Sports Complex, adjustments have been made to help navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Coordinated and monitored by Sarah Jamo, the Huskies' softball coach, first-year student-athletes are required to complete three hours of studying per week, and have three opportunities to do so:
- Sign in and out of the Athletic study table area with a monitor during Costello building hours
- Swipe in and out of the Gorham or Portland libraries
- Email study time to their respective athletic department contact person.
"Student-athletes who utilize the 'study tables,' and The Learning Commons are putting themselves in a position to succeed," said Jamo. "It's a great way to get freshman student-athletes used to the rigors of university coursework while adjusting to college life, and it is a chance for student-athletes from other teams to interact with each other and for our coaches and staff to have opportunities to check in with all of our student-athletes. For many of our student-athletes it is their first time away from home and with all of the distractions college life can bring, in addition to the demands and requirements of being a student-athlete, it can be a challenge. Study tables help make good study habits, and in turn our student-athletes tend to be successful in the classroom."
Southern Maine's student-athlete success can be seen in its record number of Huskies earning William B. Wise Scholar-Athlete recognition later this fall. Despite an upended spring semester, Husky student-athletes demonstrated their ability to adapt and continue to represent USM Athletics as a leader academically. At the conclusion of the Spring 2020 semester, the Huskies' nearly 500 student-athletes combined for a department grade point average of 3.3, raising the cumulative GPA of Husky student-athletes to an outstanding 3.2 across the University's 22 intercollegiate Division III teams. These outstanding academic performances will see the Athletic Department honor more than half of its student-athletes, 259 in total, as Wise Scholar-Athletes – meaning each of these 259 student-athletes have earned a 3.0 or higher GPA during the 2019-2020 academic year.
Much more than just hours in a week reviewing class notes or completing assignments, USM student-athletes use the Learning Center's "study tables" to not only create solid study habits in a relatively social setting, but to feel connected to the Athletic Department community, building relationships with other student-athletes, athletic department staff members and coaches. ""We're certainly proud to host this facility and this program, and of the academic success of our teams and student-athletes. Most of the coaching staff has an office adjacent to the study table area, and the student-athletes take advantage of having a strong support system around them," noted Jamo. "It should be mentioned that The Learning Center in Costello is open to everyone. While our first-year student-athletes are required to put in their time, anyone is welcome to use the facility, but must adhere to our social distance policies, including wearing a mask, spacing, and occupancy limits" added Jamo.
Costello Sports Complex Learning Center: Study Table Hours
Monday & Wednesday: 7 am – 7 pm
Tuesday & Thursday: 8 am – 5 pm
Saturday: 8 am – 12 pm