By: Meaghan McNichol – Staff Writer
The Dayton Football team has set standards both on the field and in the classroom. In the 2016 season, 79 players were named to the Pioneer Football League (PFL) Academic Honor Roll.
What’s even more impressive is that the Flyers have had the most student-athletes named to the honor roll in 22 out of the last 24 years.
At the University of Dayton, athletes are students first. Academics are always a priority.
Head coach Rick Chamberlin makes sure his players know the prominence of academic performance from the very beginning.
“One reason that our players are able to stay so consistently on top of their academics is because of the type of men we recruit,” Chamberlin said. “Coming out of high school they are bright, they are very disciplined in their academics and they know what it means to study.”
From there, Chamberlin ensures that his players are aware of the academic expectations from day one.
“Coach Chamberlin’s role in our academic success stuck out to me,” said sophomore safety David Leisring. “In the first couple of days of camp, he mentioned not only will [we] be successful in camp but also in the classroom.”
In the beginning of each season the team sets goals that they call ‘Dayton Declarations.’ This includes winning the PFL and making playoffs as well as setting academic success.
As the year continues, the players work closely with their academic coordinator, Vera Gomes, and their academic support system in order to keep up with their grades.
First semester freshmen are required to spend six hours of “study tables” each week. From there the hours of study tables are reduced depending on GPA.
“We know the students here at Dayton are going to be challenged academically,” Chamberlin said. “The general students who are going to be coming here are bright and the professors know they can challenge them. What we are trying to do is get freshmen time management and getting into the routine of college academics.”
The transition from a high school athlete to a college athlete is far from easy. Not only are academics more demanding but so are the athletics. Free time is hard to come by.
“It’s a lot more time consuming in college,” Jack Crain, senior linebacker, said. “During the season you wake up, you go to class, you go to practice, you go to meetings and there’s not a lot of down time.There’s definitely a big jump between high school and college.”
Leisring agrees with Crain saying the biggest difference is timing and fitting everything in.
“There’s a lot of things that can fill up that time so I think time is the real poverty when it comes to being a college student athlete,” Leisring said.
During the season, the coaches meet with Vera every two weeks to discuss how the players are doing academically. When progress reports come out, players are required to turn them into their position coaches so every coach knows how his players are doing.
The players attribute a lot of their academic success to this demanding process and Chamberlin’s standards.
“Coach wants to set us up successfully for the rest of our life,” Crain said. “No one is really coming here to play NFL football, so he makes academics the most important thing and we take a lot of pride in always accomplishing our goals and having that 79 players on the academic PFL team.”
Chamberlin’s requirements for academic success have impacted the dynamic of the team and have created a culture that cannot be ignored.
“Guys coming in get the memo pretty quick that to be on this team there’s a certain standard that you’re expected to uphold,” Leisring said. “The culture and the standard that the program sets really helps out the freshmen and that feeds off itself and forms a chain reaction.”
Although having 79 players named to the honor roll is impressive, it is far from surprising under Chamberlin’s leadership.
In the future the team plans to continue its academic legacy by instilling the importance of academic success in its new players and encouraging them to use their academic resources.
At the end of the day, Crain and Leisring would argue that it all comes down to time management, a lesson they learned in their mandatory six-hour study tables freshman year.
While it is intimidating to make the transition to college, especially as an athlete, the leadership and advice from the coaches and players is promising in ensuring success of their future Flyers.
“It is important to make sure you capitalize on your free time,” Leisring said. “And make sure you’re getting the most out of the week, then out of the month and then out of the semester.”
Photo Courtesy of Christian Cubacub – Multimedia Editor