Wildcats Offer Youth New Perspective

Oct. 9, 2008

A New Perspective: 

Students Get an Inside Look at Life as a Student-athlete


By Courtney Anthony


Student-athletes at St. Ambrose School had a unique opportunity to step into the life of an Arizona Wildcat student-athlete.  Two members of the Arizona Women’s Track and Field team visited the school on September 12th to share their words of wisdom on how to be a successful student while continuing to excel in athletics. 


Pole vaulters Gabriella Duclos and Jaci Perryman shared their first hand experiences about how they started pole vaulting and how they became college athletes with an audience of middle school student-athletes and teachers.  Both Wildcats emphasized the importance of staying on top of school work while balancing athletics.  Members of both the classroom and teaching staff offered their reflections regarding their experience of having the student-athletes visit their school. 


“The most important thing that the students learned was that these girls are students first and then athletes.  Our students need to understand the importance of academics in the long run,” stated Marcy Eueler, Special Projects Coordinator for St. Ambrose School. 


Being student-athletes themselves, the St. Ambrose class was eager to hear what being a collegiate student-athlete was like.  They were able to relate with Duclos and Perryman when the two spoke about their early morning wakeup calls for practice and late nights working on homework.


Ian, a 5th grade student, was excited to learn that by working hard in school and sports, he could earn a scholarship to college.  He said that he was, “inspired to work harder to get college paid for,” after hearing the student-athletes talk about the benefits of getting academic and athletic scholarships.


The group of students was anxious to take advantage of having the Wildcat student-athletes visit their school.  Duclos and Perryman were more than happy to answer a wide array of questions ranging anywhere from how big the dorm rooms are on campus to how to get an athletic scholarship to what nicknames they have for their teammates. 


One area of particular interest to the middle school students was what it’s like to be a college student.  The student-athletes were able to share key insights about campus life.  They talked about what it’s like sharing a small dorm room with another person and their experiences walking around on a big campus. 


The students were especially impressed with the wide range of activities that occur on campus daily.  The Wildcat student-athletes described how on any given day, students can find different clubs and activities on the mall or hear live music playing as they walk to class.  Students were interested as the student-athletes described their majors and explained that in college they can become an expert in a field that really interests them. 


Both Duclos and Perryman emphasized the sense of family within their team and the athletic community at The University of Arizona.  One student asked if they ever got jealous of their teammates.  Perryman effortlessly answered that if her fellow teammates are succeeding, then The University of Arizona is succeeding which is the ultimate goal for her and her fellow Wildcats.


The St. Ambrose students were also surprised to find that the nutrition habits of the Wildcat student-athletes can greatly impact their performance at meets.  The middle school students were stunned to find that UA student-athletes tried to stay away from fast food and candy.  Some of the students claimed that this might just be the hardest part of being a student-athlete for them.    


The student-athlete visit was an educational experience for all parties involved.  The middle school students were able to gain valuable lessons that they will hopefully be able to put into practice in both the classroom and on the playing field.  By hearing the success stories of two Wildcat student-athletes, who were at one time not much different than these St. Ambrose students, the group might be able to better see themselves as a successful collegiate student-athletes of the next generation. 


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