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The Relationship Between Athletics and Academia at Endicott College

Dean Michael Paige teaching a group of students.

BEVERLY, Mass. – Does showing up to practice day-in and day-out always equal a win on game day? Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. Every team practices, but at the final whistle somebody has to suffer defeat. 

To create a winning culture within a program, there are a number of factors that contribute towards generating a “W” like creative game planning, proper strength and conditioning training, good nutrition, developing mental toughness and encouraging team unity. At Endicott, winning on the field has become a tradition thanks in part to the focus that student-athletes and coaches put into these areas.

What does it take to succeed in the classroom? Attending every class and taking copious notes? Ask any of Endicott’s faculty and you will undoubtedly learn that, like their athletic efforts, there is a formula for student-athlete academic excellence. It involves building relationships with professors and advisors, maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and striving towards greatness.

Three distinguished and revered faculty members from the Schools of Arts and Sciences, Business, and Sport Science and Fitness Studies provided their insight into some of the characteristic traits and best practices that will benefit Endicott student-athletes while identifying some of the great alumni/ae success stories from over the years.

JUSTIN TOPP, PH.D. - ASSISTANT DEAN OF SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND MATHEMATICS
PROFESSOR OF BIOLOGY AND BIOENGINEERING

Q. What are some of the character traits that you noticed in student-athletes when you first arrived at Endicott a short time ago? 

I'm entering my fourth year at Endicott and the traits have not changed since my first day. Student-athletes in STEM majors are well-organized, manage their time well, and have great balance. They are calm in the face of adversity or large workloads and tend not to get over-excited when they do well or too down when they do poorly. They are focused more on the big picture academically and see the forest AND the trees. Many student-athletes tend to be natural leaders in the classroom and their peers look to them to set the tone for interactions with professors. 

Q. How do you see student-athletes manage their time and balance the academic rigors of some of the programs you oversee?  

Student-athletes pursuing STEM majors appreciate the time commitment and rigorous nature of our programs from day one. If anything, they seem better able to manage their time than non-athletes because they're better prepared mentally (i.e. they enter Endicott with eyes wide open). They know they cannot afford to waste time and use their professors as learning resources very well. You also can't discount their energy levels, which is probably what drove them into competitive sports and is sustained due to their physical activity. A healthy mind needs a health body!

Q. Who is one of the greatest success stories of the student-athletes you have taught or advised at Endicott?

There are a few that come to mind. Joey Picard is an obvious choice and his story is well known. Following in his footsteps is Abby Keim who will save the world someday. Another student whose story is not at as well known is Artemio Sison. While I believe he didn't play his senior year of lacrosse to focus on his studies, sports were very important to him. I actually taught him when he was at Gordon and he was a poor student that honestly didn't really even register in the large class in which I was teaching him. I started at Endicott during his junior year, his second year at Endicott. He was a completely changed student and I worked with him closely. He had a newfound love of biology and did well in his classes and pursued as many learning experiences as he could, working in a variety of research areas using advanced instrumentation. His senior internship was at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development & Engineering Center (NSRDEC) making pathogen-resistant clothing for soldiers. His senior thesis was directly related to this work and he received a Senior Thesis Award from the biology department. After this, he went to Temple where he received an M.S. in Bioinformatics and he is now working in the industry. I am a proud mentor and have served as a reference for him the last three years.

AILEEN TORRANCE, J.D. - ASSISTANT DEAN, CURTIS L. GERRISH SCHOOL OF BUSINESS

Q. What are some pieces of advice that you tell new student-athletes about how to maintain a healthy relationship with faculty and in managing their coursework?

Get to know your professors and let us get to know you. We are interested in your success both in the classroom and on the field (court, pitch, ice, etc.) It makes communication much easier. In order to manage your time and expectations, I recommend that you read each syllabus ahead of time to get an idea of the anticipated workload and due dates. Remember to inform your professors ahead of time when you expect to miss class due to a game and be sure to deliver homework early or at least on time. By the way – chances are we will be rooting for you!

Q. What would you identify as the one common hurdle that the majority of student-athletes will encounter over their college careers?

A common hurdle student-athletes often encounter is trying to find time to work on class work that is “group work.”  Everyone has schedules and commitments. Be flexible, show up and participate. Everyone’s contribution is important.

Q. Who is one of the greatest success stories of the student-athletes you have taught or advised at Endicott?

Greatest success stories of student-athletes? There are so many! A common thread with all of our successful student-athletes is determination. Whether it’s determination during practice or a match or in pursing an internship and/or job after college, these student-athletes manage it all. Jamie Zompa is just one example. In addition to all of her successes on the court and as a two-time captain of our women’s tennis team, Jamie, an honors student, managed to graduate with 151 credit hours, maintain a near perfect GPA, and was very involved on campus. She was an executive member of Endicott DECA and national award winner, was a member of both Sigma Beta Delta, an international business honor society, and the Motor Board National Honor Society. As an accounting major, Jamie interned with three different accounting firms and is currently working at KPMG, a top four accounting firm. There is no stopping her!

RICH NASTASI, ED.D. - PROFESSOR, SPORT SCIENCE
CO-ADVISOR, PHI EPSILON KAPPA
CO-ADVISOR, PHYSICAL EDUCATION SOCIETY

Q. What is the biggest change you have seen in student-athlete academic prowess over the years?

Over the 20-plus years that I have been on the Endicott faculty the academic growth has been subtle, but significant. As the College has spread its wings to include a wide variety of students, their academic, as well as athletic, interests have expanded. Most of our students are equipped with good high school backgrounds that enable them to hit the ground running in an inquiry-based academic environment. As with most undergraduates, the movement to respectfully question previously held truth is the most significant step in the college process. Sport mirrors this process. Athletes are now at the stage where they can trust their minds and bodies exploring ways of being exceptional. Coaches on the collegiate level now can take the role of pathfinder, as we faculty do, working with athletes to discover all that they can become. Playing small college athletics about forty years ago, when dinosaurs ruled the earth, I always appreciated faculty who stopped by and watched us play. As a faculty member, I love trying to get to as many games and other student performances as possible. Small college athletics is unique as the folks who are running, jumping, and throwing are the ones that you see and speak with in class and at office hours every day. Being at two larger universities before coming to Endicott, there is a big difference in this type of articulation.

Q. How have you seen the athletic department grow in terms of focus on the academic well-being of its student-athletes?

The athletic department at Endicott has always worked closely with faculty, realizing that academic and athletic promise are not mutually exclusive. Rather they, at best, go hand-in-hand to enable students to seek internal and external truths.

Q. Who is one of the greatest success stories of the student-athletes you have taught or advised at Endicott?

There are so many wonderful stories of Endicott student-athletes who have left a mark on me. Briefly, the person that comes to mind first is former football captain and two-time All-Region player Pego Jean-Paul, who was inducted into the Endicott Hall of Fame a few years back. Soft spoken, yet uniquely persuasive, Pego was an honors student and became a fixture of our initial Model UN teams that participated at Harvard and internationally, in Australia. As a result of his diplomatic experiences and his will to make a difference, Pego, after graduation, spent two years with the Peace Corps in Ghana. He was an educational specialist working with curriculum, especially dealing with technology.  One of his missions was to lead the Peace Corps Ghana Gender and Youth committee to increase volunteer involvement in creating educational and business opportunities geared toward women and youth. I speak to him on LinkedIn as much as I can, but still not enough for my liking!

BRAM LUTTON, PH.D.
MIC'ED UP AT THE CCC MEN'S ICE HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP!



The Endicott Experience feature aims to highlight the entirety of the student-athletes' experiential learning journey throughout their academic careers. The student-athlete at Endicott is afforded the same opportunities as the general student population at the College as it relates to internships, study abroad, and postgraduate career pursuits. This philosophy mirrors the mission statement of the College which every student is encouraged to take intellectual risks, pursue scholarly and creative interests, contribute to the community, and explore diverse career paths. Read more Endicott Experience features by navigating the links below.   

INTERNSHIP: Fall 2015 | 2014-15 Internships Fall 2016 Semester-Long Gulls "Learn By Doing" On Winter Break | 442 Student-Athletes Complete Internships During 2016-17 Academic Year
STUDY ABROAD: Studying Abroad as a Student-Athlete at Endicott | James Dwyer Focuses on Opportunities Abroad in Switzerland with Les Roches Global HospitalityEndicott Student-Athletes Study Abroad in Asia | Holly Erbe Studies Abroad in London, Paris, Amsterdam | Andrea Courtemanche Gains New Perspectives Through Study Abroad Trip
ACADEMICS: Emily Sharpe and Eric Owens Balance STEM and Sport at Endicott | Kendra Walters, Creating Her Own Happiness Through Art at Endicott
CAREER OUTCOMES: Internships Lead To Career Outcomes | 2015 Graduates Find Immediate Success in Job Market

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