Life as a Division-I college football player has plenty of demands.
There are mandatory meals and study sessions, weight-lifting schedules, team meals and, of course, practices — not to mention the demands of the classroom.
At Georgia Southern University, the least they can do is give the team a day off on the first day of classes.
“It’s definitely distracting, and that’s why we don’t practice on Monday,” GSU coach Jeff Monken said. “We give the guys the day off so they can get settled in, go back to class and get in that mode of the regular school year.”
The team resumed practice Tuesday at Beautiful Eagle Creek, but the players, especially the freshmen, need the opportunity to get their academics in order.
“The No. 1 priority for our players is to see that they get a degree,” Monken said. “That’s what they’re here for.”
Georgia Southern has an academic-support staff for athletes, headed up by Keith Roughton, associate athletic director in charge of compliance and eligibility and student-athlete services.
“They help them with their schedules. They help them with time management, and they have mandatory study halls,” Monken said about the GSU athletics academic support staff.
The GSU football coaches do their part to get the players in a position to be successful in the classroom, too.
“Our staff assists them with everything they do,” said Monken. “Our coaches are here all hours of the day, from when the sun comes up until late in the evening, working with these guys. They become like a family. We want them to succeed, and we hope our kids feel like they’re getting the support that they need.”
The list of demands is extensive.
“They have to go to breakfast, they can’t show up late and they can’t miss class,” Monken said. “If they do, there are consequences. They have to be at every meal, they have to be at meetings and they have to be at practice. That’s three and a half or four hours a day and weight lifting a couple times a day. Some of those weight-lifting sessions are as early as six o’clock on the morning. They go to practice, they have mandatory study time at night — it’s a whole day — so they need support.”
“For someone who’s not a college athlete, to imagine the demand on these guys, from when they wake up in the morning until late in the evening, their day is totally scheduled for them.”
The Eagles will practice at Beautiful Eagle Creek today through Thursday at 3:45 p.m. and Friday at 4 p.m.
The season kicks off Saturday, Sept. 1, at 6 p.m. against Jacksonville.