Faculty mentors: Keeping athletes on track

While they don’t make an impact on the field or court, faculty mentors play a crucial role in keeping players out on the playing field

 

Maintaining academic eligibility is something every sports team coach is concerned with. Faculty mentors are available to student athletes at California Lutheran University so they do not encounter problems with balancing their athletics and academics and maintain academic eligibility.

Student athletes are not always able to attend classes because of athletic events away from Cal Lutheran, but the faculty mentors are there to help them with balancing their schedule and classes. One of these faculty mentors is Bruce Gillies, professor in Cal Lutheran’s School of Management. Gillies mentors the Kingsmen baseball, football and soccer teams.

“Faculty mentors are meant to be a recourse to the student athletes, so they don’t have to worry about the faculty stuff that much,” Gillies said.

Gillies says that if an athlete has to miss an exam because of a game, his or her faculty mentor would try to help them so they can do both things.

“We also go the other way, from faculty members to coaches if one of the athletes are having problems with their classes,” Gillies said.

The faculty mentors are also there so the coaches don’t have to worry about the academics of their athletes.

“It’s a two-way street, and it’s just another avenue for the coaches to not have to worry about the academic stuff,” Gillies said.

Faculty mentors interact not only with the coaches and faculty members, but also the athletes. They introduce themselves and observe the athletes when they’re playing, and make sure that they know they can talk to the faculty mentors about anything. It is a relationship that is beneficial to both parties. Student athletes can worry less about missing classes and faculty mentors get to be part of the athletic teams.

“We interact with the students, come out and watch a few games. It’s really kind of fun to be able to interact with the students and the teams and help them be successful,” Gillies said.

If an athlete is struggling with a class, their faculty mentor is there to help them succeed in that class.

“If an athlete is telling us ‘I’m in a stats class and it’s difficult,’ we would say ‘here are some tutors that can help you out,’ or if we know something about the subject we can try to help them out,” Gillies said.

For many students also involved in sports, it can be hard to juggle all their commitments. This is something Gillies is familiar with. Gillies said he will give time management advice to athletes who are having trouble balancing their homework and practice loads.

Gillies said that the best part of being a faculty mentor is seeing the students’ success.

“I’ve been a faculty mentor for six or seven years now, and it’s always neat to see a student athlete come back when they have been successful out in the business world and say ‘I got hired because of my athletic involvement,’” Gillies said.

Marty Slimak, head coach of the Kingsmen baseball team, believes that faculty mentors are very beneficial to his athletes.

“[Gillies] has a great responsibility to the students”, Slimak said. “He is also a good mentor mentally, with sport psychology stuff.”

Gillies teaches a sport psychology class at Cal Lutheran, and also helps athletes from a mental aspect of the game.

Even though the faculty mentors are not official members of the teams they mentor, they are essential to a team’s success because if an athlete is not performing his best in the classroom, he or she may become ineligible and not be able to help his or her team win games.

 

Karl Kleppe

Staff Writer

Published November 5, 2014