As a professor, Scott Grawe believes student athletes are really no different than any other student.
“I’ve seen some who put a lot of time into the academic portion of their lives,” said Grawe, an associate professor of supply chain management. “They come to me and ask for help, put time into the material, and because of their competitive nature, they don’t like to fail and they like to perform well. It’s great to see them take that energy and tenacity to their studies as they do on the field or the court,” he said.
As a former student athlete himself, he pitched on the Cyclones baseball team from 1994 to 1997, Grawe also knows finding the balance between classroom and team takes focus, discipline and time management. To achieve that balance, Grawe said student athletes need to remember to not get overwhelmed.
“You get the chance to do the thing you love at the college level and can’t lose sight of that,” he said. “The advice I have is not to lose sight of what’s important in your life.”
It’s easy for students to feel pressure from the athletic standpoint, Grawe said.
“All the hours of training you put in for games, and for some you’re on stage for tens of thousands of people,” he said. “That’s a lot of pressure, yet when you get to the classroom, expectations continue to be high.”
Parents, coaches, and advisers all have expectations. And because athletes are competitive by nature, they put added pressure on themselves.
“I don’t think the general population understands the amount of pressure student athletes are under and the amount of hours they put in to get better in their sport,” Grawe said. “It’s like having a job at the same time you’re going to school. As fans, we tend to identify these young men and women as the athletes they are, when there’s so much more to each one of them than the sport they play. I wish people had a better grasp of it.”
Eventually, the games come to an end and the “student athlete” identity shifts to that of a student and career decisions loom.
How does a student athlete navigate that transition?
“Surround yourself with and seek advice from people who couldn’t care less that you are an athlete,” Grawe recommended. “They are the ones who will help you maintain an identity outside the sport. And stay involved in other ways, officiating or coaching, and it becomes easier to make that transition. If you don’t have anything to feed the desire for that sport, that can be challenging. You need something to maintain that competitiveness.”
Grawe said it’s also a good idea once a student is no longer a collegiate athlete to not keep the focus on the part that is “missing.”
“Don’t surround yourself with people who love what you did on the court or the field in those days,” he said. “They aren’t going to do anything in terms of helping.”
Grawe, whose work at the College of Business focuses on research that involves how organizations work together to move product through the supply chain, has fueled his love of sports by coaching his children in baseball, softball and by serving on the board of the Ames Little League.
Working as a team for a common goal was “preached over and over again as we competed in the Big 8 and Big 12 conference,” Grawe said of his days as a student athlete. “All athletes are working toward the same thing,” he said.
“From a faculty standpoint, we’re doing the same,” he said. “We’re working for Iowa State to be the best, to be competitive. I have to be doing my part to get us to that point, just as when pitching I had to do my part.”