By Emily Krolewicz
Success is measured in different ways in collegiate athletics. It can be evaluated in the amount of championships won, athletes who turn professional or student athletes who walk across the stage for graduation.
At Alma College, each program may have a slightly different meaning of success, but the athletic department as a whole is always working to make sure student athletes excel both on and off the field.
“As a department we have a mission statement and core values,” said Sarah Dehring, associate athletic director. “If a student athlete possesses all of our core values, then in my opinion they will be successful here.”
Head men’s basketball coach Sam Hargraves said he defines success the same way John Wooden does and that is, “You have to make the best effort to be the best you can be. GPA, trophies, championships, those are all just a potential by-product of your effort. You shouldn’t measure your success on those things.”
“We are all committed to helping our student-athletes to be successful—as students, athletes, and, most importantly, as young people who are learning and growing into valuable members of society,” said Alex Leja, head volleyball coach.
Although success has been defined in different ways, the main focus is on the strong values and academic effort each student-athlete must put forth in order to achieve success.
“They need to understand that student comes before athlete,” said Dehring. “They need to be academic, and strive for academic excellence, integrity and passion.”
Student athletes, as well as the entire student body, are able to take advantage of resources the college provides for them to be successful in all aspects of their college career.
“We have such a supportive atmosphere here, starting with the professors, to the CSO, to the coaches, and peers,” said Hargraves. “Athletes have so much help waiting for them.”
The opportunities and coaching provided are only a few pieces of the puzzle. At the Division III level, it takes upperclassmen motivation and a strong inner drive to be successful, as well.
“If there isn’t great leadership from the upperclassmen, then often times you see the team struggle,” said Dehring. “Teammates are very understanding about what they need to do to help the team succeed in all aspects.”
“I really think the main difference in DIII is how self-driven student athletes have to be to get better,” said Hargraves. “The players play because they love it, which should be the number one motivation no matter what level, and really, no matter what you’re doing.”
“Playing a sport in college is a privilege, regardless of what level it may be,” said Leja. “Student-athletes at this level are competing because of their love for the game and the challenge.”
“Coaches make sure their athletes are cared about,” said Dehring. “They aren’t just a number; that’s why most of the students come to Alma. I think that if a student athlete graduates from Alma College and they can say they had a great experience then they’ve achieved success.”