SAAP helps athletes reach potential

Category:  Sports
Wednesday, October 26th, 2016 at 9:08 PM

This fall, the department of education and athletics made a collaborative effort to begin an in-depth tutoring program for student athletes at Edinboro University. The Student-Athlete Academic Program (SAAP) is offered to student athletes who may struggle with their academic studies.

Athletes are appointed by their coaches and report to study tables for a certain amount of required nights. At study tables, student- athletes receive support and accountability from their faculty and peers.

The peer mentors who assist their fellow classmates are a mixture of upperclassmen in athletics and certain 300 and 400 level education courses.

“Sometimes student- athletes, particularly first-year students, need additional academic support and benefit from more one- on-one, engaged academic time with a peer and/or faculty/staff mentor who can assist with the study skills and strategies necessary to be successful in college courses,” Dr. Robbins-Hunt said. She is the assistant chair of the counseling, school of psychology, and special education department.

Aaron Pilgrim is a defensive end for Edinboro’s football team and a health and physical education major. He gets along with his mentor very well and said the SAAP program has helped him out tremendously.

“I like it because it gives you one-on-one time that you don’t get from your professors,” Pilgrim said. He added that he thinks this program is beneficial to his fellow athletes.

Pilgrim meets with Emma Sullivan for three additional hours outside of study tables, along with a faculty member once a week. Sullivan is an early childhood and special education major at Edinboro. She is also a member of the women’s cross country and track and field teams.

In their study sessions, Sullivan works as a tutor and a guide. She goes over Pilgrim’s textbook readings and class notes in order to give him the additional instruction and explanation he needs to succeed. Sullivan also helps him establish good study habits so that he can work towards improving his studies.

“What I like about the SAAP program the most is the community it builds. While it is awesome that so many struggling student- athletes are getting the help they need, it is even better to see that athlete-to-athlete community we are building. [The program] helps us to all build support for one another, both on and off the field of play,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan added that she thinks the SAAP program is a very beneficial program for the student-athletes who need extra help and motivation in order to get their schoolwork done.

“With the mentors mostly being student-athletes themselves, it helps the mentees even more. They are learning from someone who is in the same situation as them and knows the demands of a student- athlete’s schedule, and how to make the best of those demands.”

There were originally 32 student-athletes at the beginning of the semester, however, due to the response of volunteers, 10 additional students have been added to the program since the first week.

With the program growing, the administrators are currently working on writing a grant which will help to fund the program allowing peer mentors to be paid rather than solely volunteer. Additional training would also become readily available for the mentors.

“We know from research that peer mentoring and peer tutoring are effective practices, so we hope to see all student-athletes in the program meet and maintain NCAA eligibility requirements,” Robbins-Hunt said. She adds that increased retention and GPAs are the ideal hope for these students.

Robbins-Hunt explained that the mentors have been given crucial opportunities to apply the skills and strategies they learn in their classes to a real-world setting. She hopes SAAP will expand its resources to create a mentoring center or institute on campus and that the current mentees will become mentors.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the quality and commitment of our student and faculty mentors and the amazing young men and women they are helping,” concluded Robbins. 

Hannah Webster is a social media editor for The Spectator. 

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