New Learning Center Gives Student Athletes a Place to Study

Devon Sample (left) gets advice from Kathy Utley, lead coordinator and instructor. Sample has clocked more than 70 hours in the center so far this spring. /Julian Wallace/ el Don

Santa Ana College provides students the opportunity to continue their education and advance their skills and talents. This does not just limit students to the classroom but also stays true on the sporting grounds.

To many, being an athlete is a lifestyle. Hard work, dedication, commitment and talent are just a few of the wide array of skills and talents that college athletes must have to be a part of a team. However, a crucial must-have for college athletes to be successful are good grades.

For the first time, SAC opened an athletic learning center built specifically to aid and focus on athletes and their education.

Officially made available for use this semester, this is a place where student-athletes can study, do homework, or receive help on their classwork.

Devon Sample, a Don football player, was required to attend two hours a week at the learning center but is a regular attendee and has accumulated over 70 hours this spring.

“It makes it easy to get work done here since there are a lot less distractions than doing work anywhere else,” said Sample. “My work ethic would lack more if the center wasn’t open because outside you’re free to do whatever.”

Sample credits Kathy Utley, lead coordinator and instructor, for his success at the learning center. Utley transitioned from a high school continuation program to help create the athletic learning center in hopes that she could help student-athletes academically. Because of the progress, she has seen in Sample, she hopes that all Don athletes will be required to attend at least two hours a week, since not all teams mandate their players.

“When they get an athletic director perhaps that director will mandate all coaches to enforce every athlete to do two hours, but without a director or dean there is no reinforcement from the top to trickle down [to the coaches],” Utley said.

The teams that are required to come, however, have already seen improvements and benefits from this newly opened center. Freshman Jordan Ladner, a Dons softball player, recommends that all Don athletes should come by, those who are struggling in school to stay on task.

Dons freshman football player Devon Jackson says he has hopes of transferring to a four-year school to continue his collegiate career.  “Schools won’t take you seriously if you don’t have a good GPA,” Jackson said.

Doing well in school is an important factor in eligibility in order to play. Unfortunately, some students struggle to keep their grades up to academic requirements and are forced to withdraw from competition, which not only hurts them but their team as well.

Julian Wallace contributed to this report.

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