Rutgers athletic teams earn perfect graduation rates
This year, three Rutgers athletic organizations were recognized for outstanding performances off the pitch and inside the classroom.
The women’s soccer, lacrosse, field hockey and gymnastics teams each received perfect Graduation Success Rate (GSR) scores, according to an annual report by the NCAA.
This is the 12th year in a row the gymnastics team achieved a perfect score and the third year the women’s soccer team has done the same, according to CBS sports.
Eriel Santagado, a member of the gymnastics team and a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said she was not surprised by her team’s success.
“I don’t think the idea of not graduating from school has really crossed anybody’s mind,” Santagado said. “None of us see it as a viable option.”
Santagado said her team's high score can be attributed to the discipline they learned from gymnastics. The sport requires the constant repetition and perfection of routines. Practicing gymnastics develops a mentality that is conducive towards academic success, she said.
The attitude of the coaching staff also played a role in the team's academic achievements, Santagado said.
“Our coaches expect a certain standard of academic excellence from us,” she said. “They encourage us to give schoolwork everything we’ve got.”
Louis Levine, the head coach of the gymnastics team, said he and his staff constantly stress the importance of academics for their athletes.
“The expectation is not that our athletes are just getting by in the classroom but that they’re succeeding,” Levine said. “We endeavor to do everything in our power to make this possible.”
Levine said he believes education is the most important thing the women on his team can gain from their time spent at Rutgers.
The woman's gymnastics coaching staff pride themselves on emphasizing the importance of education, he said.
“Unlike some other sports, there’s no such thing as professional gymnastics,” he said. “These girls are here first and foremost to be students and to learn."
Alana Navaroli, a member of the women’s lacrosse team and a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said professors try to accommodate student athletes.
“All of my professors are very understanding whenever I have to miss a class because of an athletic obligation,” Navaroli said. “On the whole, I think most professors really respect the commitment we have for our sports.”
Academic advisors also offer support for student athletes, Navaroli said.
“Our advisors ensure that we’re always on top of our schedules,” she said. “They also hold us accountable for any bad grades we may have gotten and offer tips on navigating our majors.”
Gilah Rosenberg, an athletic academic advisor for the Office of Academic Support Services for Student-Athletes (ASSSA), said she and her colleagues do their best to be available to student athletes.
“Our goal is to build a relationship with student athletes so they feel comfortable coming to talk to us about anything,” Rosenberg said. “We help student athletes in all aspects of their academics … we’re also here to offer them advice on any other facet of their life.”
The office offers student athletes multiple forms of help, such as academic advising, tutoring and study hall requirements, according to the office’s website.
Student athletes often take advantage of the assistance offered to them by their advisors and tutors, Rosenberg said.
“On average, I communicate with at least 60 students a week,” she said. “There are times when you can walk by my office and see four or five students just sitting, standing and talking with me.”
Managing school and athletics can be difficult, said Tori Prager, a member of the women’s soccer team and Rutgers Business School senior.
“At times, it's incredibly stressful, chaotic and hectic,” Prager said. “On a daily basis, you’re devoting four or five hours out of the day to your team.”
Despite its demanding nature, a rigorous athletic schedule should be seen as something positive, Prager said. It forces individuals to manage their time effectively and to stay organized.
The student athlete experience at Rutgers also acts as preparation for the business world, Prager said.
“You learn how to enjoy being part of something bigger than yourself,” she said. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience.”
Nicholas Simon is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. He is a staff writer for The Daily Targum.