Throughout preseason football camp, Assistant Director of Athletics Communications Rachel Perreault will take you on a behind-the-scenes look at different aspects of the football program that go beyond the practice field. In today’s first installment, she checks in with the Student-Athlete Academic Support Services, located in Lane Stadium.
Football season has officially hit the Virginia Tech campus after the team’s first practice last night. While things are heating up around the athletics department as everyone prepares for the fall sports and academic year to begin, things in the Student-Athlete Academic Support Services office are coming close to cooling down. This first week of football camp is always hectic for all involved with the squad, but it provides an especially busy time for many of those around the SAASS office.
The SAASS office is comprised of seven full-time advisors and two learning specialists. Sarah Armstrong and Greg Beatty are the two advisors in charge of football. The pair work directly with the student-athletes and coaches to help build a foundation and execution plan for balancing the hectic lifestyle of a student-athlete.
Every year, this first week of camp overlaps with the final week of Summer Session II. Though the workload is much lighter in the summer, all students are preparing for that final push at the end of the term. Studying for exams and finishing up final papers, these football players are now also preparing to hit the field again on the very same days.
The upperclassmen have the liberty of going through this before. They know what to expect and how they should handle it. The freshmen, on the other hand, are getting their first taste at balancing the long days of class, study hall, meals, meetings and practice that will soon theme their fall.
While Beatty, who works with each year’s freshmen, has used the week leading up to camp to emphasize the importance of getting ahead so this jam packed week of long days can go as smoothly as possible, Armstrong has been focusing on the upperclassmen and helping them close out summer school to the best of their ability.
Though this introduction week of camp, classes and orientations can quickly sneak up on and overwhelm the newcomers, the benefits of them participating in summer school are endless. They have the opportunity to acclimate themselves with their surroundings. It’s a chance to get familiar with campus, the collegiate work level and all of their new resources, while also dealing with being away from home for the first time without the pressure of performing on the field right away.
Redshirt freshman tight end Darius Redman is grateful for the grace period of summer school, as he looks back now while entering his second year on campus.
“It gave me a lot of time to balance out football and academics and it gave me an idea of what to major in before school started,” Redman said. “I didn’t know I wanted to do that before I got here. I had a lot of conversations with Greg Beatty and he gave me a lot of choices and helped me find out what I wanted to do after college.”
With an even larger army behind them, Armstrong, Beatty and the learning specialists do not attack this oversized squad alone. A full-time intern is also assigned to the football team and the office itself employs more than 100 tutors who have displayed academic success and an effort to help others learn in any class that any student-athlete may be enrolled in. In an effort to balance the long days and challenging travel schedule, Redman himself is quick to credit the help of his tutors as a SAASS resource he takes advantage of the most.
Following this final week of Summer School and first week of camp, the advisors will finally have a brief chance to come up for air and begin to prepare and plan for a successful start to the fall semester. The SAASS office will use this time to check on major progress, coordinate things with each student-athlete’s academic advisor on campus and lay out a new support plan for the upcoming year.
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