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Guest Coach program unites student-athletes and faculty as one

by Panagiotis Argitis - Managing Editor
Wed, Nov 28th 2018 10:00 am
Mark Chang, Ph.D. (far left) and Anne Macpherson, Ph.D.,  (far right) were both nominated by student athletes to guest coach during the season. Junior Emily Merrill (middle, left) and senior Emily Nestler (middle, right) stand beside their newly named coaches.
Mark Chang, Ph.D. (far left) and Anne Macpherson, Ph.D., (far right) were both nominated by student athletes to guest coach during the season. Junior Emily Merrill (middle, left) and senior Emily Nestler (middle, right) stand beside their newly named coaches.

It’s easy to assume that student-athletes and their relationships with college professors do not extend past the classroom setting. Student-athletes report to class and fulfill their educational duties in the same manner as any other student does along with the foundation between student and professor. 

While it’s hard to see how their contributions on the court or field are valued by professors rather than their grades, The College at Brockport sports and academic departments come together to challenge that common theory.

Introduced in 2015, Brockport’s Guest Coach Program allows professors and faculty members to experience and engage with student’s efforts outside their study curriculum. Some professors have had experience between the double lives of a student-athlete while in college and understand the hardships they deal with in and out of the classroom. However, a large portion simply doesn’t and the biggest factor behind this is exposure. 

In order to fully understand the two sides of a college student-athlete, professors need to be there with their students to watch them compete. The Guest Coach Program allows professors to interact with their students outside of the college classroom. 

The participating faculty members are hand-picked by the athletes themselves. From there, the nominated members get to sit in on pre-game speeches, join the team right behind the benches and offer a helping hand in getting the players ready from the sidelines. 

The program is all about getting a taste for what goes on outside of study hall doors and to emphasize the importance of student athletics. 

“These guest coaches gain an appreciation for what our student-athletes sacrifice on a daily basis and how much hard work & time that they put into their sport,” Brockport women’s basketball head coach Corinne Jones wrote in an email. “A guest coach once said to me, ‘wow, basketball is like another class for them.’” 

One may think that selecting education staff to coach athletes is insufficient or purposeless, but where it might lack in coaching skill the connection staff has with students is a bond strong enough to go beyond the classroom, court or field. Having the support of fans is totally separate from having the support from a professor or faculty member that athletes see almost every day. 

“Our guest coaching program enhances our student-athletes’ experience at Brockport,” Jones wrote in an email. “Our players truly enjoy being supported by Brockport’s faculty & staff and the guest coaches literally get to cheer on their student-athlete as she competes on the court.”

Brockport’s Guest Coach Program is spearheaded by Faculty Athletic Representative (FAR) [liaison between academics and athletics] Lynda Cochran. For the current calendar year, the program has run throughout several of Brockport’s athletic programs including women’s soccer, field hockey and most recently, the women’s basketball team.  

This season, the women’s basketball team which is 2—2 on the season as of Monday, Nov. 26, was joined by assistant professor Mark Chang, Ph.D., and history department professor and chair Anne Macpherson, Ph.D., for its season opener against St. John Fisher College on Tuesday, Nov. 13. The two got to know what the team is all about and experience their student’s skills on a completely new level. 

Cochran, who has been responsible for the program’s success over the last three years, has seen relationships strengthen for both student and faculty, inside and outside of the classroom. 

“We started this program as a way to connect faculty with students outside the classroom,” Cochan wrote in an email. [The goal is] “to showcase and educate what our hard working student athletes are doing with our faculty whom they want to recognize for what they do as faculty.”

The Guest Coach Program has hockey, men’s basketball, and baseball lined up as the next athletic programs to join for the special connection. 

The program’s ongoing goal of bringing student-athletes and their sacrifices in closer focus with professors and faculty, challenges the current separation that is part of today’s world.

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