Donning the label of 'student-athlete' has always been something I have been proud of. Not only am I dedicated to achieving personal academic success, but I have also devoted myself to, and have had the privilege of participating in, a sport that I love. I am very grateful that I have had the opportunity to push myself academically and be a part of the challenging atmosphere at Bowdoin while also being able to compete and experience field hockey at the collegiate level. And contrary to some popular belief, athletes are successful students too.
As a one-sport athlete at Bowdoin I have experienced academics both in-season and out-of-season. Based on my four years here, I have found that I have higher academic achievement during my field hockey season. I'm sure not everybody has had the same experiences as I, but based on many conversations, most of my peers believe that they perform at a higher academic level while participating in their sport(s) and have felt more organized and motivated during their season(s) to do well academically. Having a set schedule of practice and games makes time management a vital skill when it comes to completing assignments. I am more successful at completing my assignments during the season, because I know that I only have a certain amount of time to do so.
"Founded in 1971, the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) consists of 11 liberal arts colleges and has consistently reflected its commitment to the values of athletics and academic achievement". An example of this achievement comes through the All-Academic Team Honorees announced by the NESCAC for every season. In order "to be honored, a student-athlete must have reached junior academic standing and be a varsity letter winner with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.35". For the 2008 fall sports season, "thirty-nine Bowdoin student-athletes [were] awarded NESCAC All-Academic recognition". This is an impressive amount of student-athletes honored since only two classes of athletes are eligible and it only encompassed one sports season. Another example of athletes at Bowdoin excelling at academics is the women's lacrosse team from the 2008 season. "As a team, the Polar Bears surpassed the 3.0 grade-point-average requirement to collect All-Academic Team recognition" while also maintaining a successful season. Most recently, "the two-time defending national champion Bowdoin College field hockey team has again earned recognition for their efforts in the classroom" as they received the 2009 Academic Team Award from the National Field Hockey Coaches Association. Also, nine individuals on the field hockey team were recognized as Academic All-Americans which means that they had to maintain a 3.3 grade point average or above. This is the fifth consecutive season that the field hockey team has been awarded Academic Team Honors.
Outside of the Bowdoin community, athletes have been making significant impacts academically as well. The New York Times ran an article in 2005 highlighting the success of a student-athlete. As a 2005 graduate of Long Island University "David Ledet had a grade point average of 3.9 which was the highest average at the Brooklyn campus and delivered the valedictory address at his graduation. Interestingly, he was, "also a soccer player who led his team to contention for the conference title all four years". Like many student-athletes, David contributed his academic success during the season to good time management as, "having a strict schedule forces you to study".
There have also been studies done to investigate the possible correlation between academics and athletics. One study done by James Beal showed, "no difference between GPA for athletes and non-athletes, but did show differences between overall academic performance". Beal found, "that with factors such as number of classes repeated, academic probation, and annual credit hours added in, athletes surpassed non-athletes in academics".12] Another study done by Bonnie MacKenzie in 1981 found that there were no "significant differences between the GPA of male athletes and that of male non-athletes". According to these studies, academic achievement does not seem to be negatively affected by participation in athletics, despite a common perception that athletes do not care about academics.
So while participating in a sport at Bowdoin may be time consuming, I do not think that this participation does not detract from students maintaining a high level of academic success.
Bowdoin College, "NESCAC Announces Fall All-Academic Team Honorees" available online: http://athletics.bowdoin.edu/sports/general/20081125
 Bowdoin College, "Women's Lacrosse Honored for Academics" available online: http://athletics.bowdoin.edu/sports/spring/wlax/2008-09/news/20080811 accessed March 2009.
 Bowdoin College, "Field Hockey Team Honored with NFHCA Academic Award" available online: http://athletics.bowdoin.edu/sports/fall/fh/2008-09/news/20090316 accessed March 2009.
 New York Times, "A Balance of Academics and Athletics" available online: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/11/sports/soccer/11vecsey.html?_r=1
 Associated Content, "The Effect of Athletics Involvement on GPA: The Benefits of Playing a Sport" available online: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/146382/the_effect_of_athletic_involvement_pg2.html?cat=4 accessed April 2009.
 Ibid accessed March 2009. accessed March 2009.