Athletic Study Mentors Contribute to Academic Success
BY KEN DEBOLT
Thanks to a collaboration between the Hobart and William Smith Athletics Departments and the HWS Center for Teaching and Learning, Statesmen and Heron student-athletes have a new resource in their quest for academic excellence.
Athletic Study Mentors (ASM) are teammates who serve as peer facilitators, helping student-athletes with time management, note-taking, reading and study skills and the transition to college life. Nominated by their coach and embedded within their team, ASMs are hired, trained and supported by the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). The program began as a pilot project during the 2018-19 academic year with 10 of the Colleges' varsity teams and has since expanded to all 23 teams.
This academic year, 21 ASMs provided support to their teammates through workshops and one-on-one meetings. "The program is designed to provide student-athletes with support that is real, responsive and responsible," explains CTL Assistant Director Ingrid Keenan.
Daniel Masino '21 helps both Statesmen and Heron basketball firstyears make the transition to college studies. "I strongly feel the proactive training helps first-years have an easier transition," he says. "It's very helpful to have someone they know they can go to for pretty much any question they have throughout the semester."
The program has shown clear results. In Fall 2017, HWS first-year student-athletes had an average GPA of 3.03. By the second year of the ASM program, that average had risen to 3.17 and this past fall it was 3.26.
While ASMs are responsive to students' needs and help them identify effective strategies, they also serve as role models who can set an example with their own study habits and academic engagement.
Hobart basketball first-year Matthew Brand '24 appreciated the example Masino set and his willingness to listen and offer advice. "I knew Dan was someone I was going to look up to and I knew I was going to pick his brain every opportunity I got," Brand says. "He was available to help me with anything — whether it was school-related, life-related or basketball-related."
William Smith lacrosse senior Sadie Mapstone '21 is in her first season as an ASM, working with Heron first-years. It was a job made more challenging by COVID-19. "I ran workshops over Zoom with the entire first-year class two times in the fall, had a 30-minute one-on-one meeting with each firstyear at least once and made myself available for additional one-on-ones," she explains. Mapstone took advantage of nice weather and had "walk-andtalk" one-on-ones outside whenever possible and, of course, made sure to wear masks for all in-person meetings.
Keenan shares that the feedback CTL received on the program has been universally positive. 77% of firstyears rated ASM as 'very helpful' to 'I couldn't have done it without them.'