George Seldon, member of the basketball team and a general studies senior from Los Angeles, Calif., studies with a tutor.  The Bratzke Center offers mentoring and tutoring programs for student athletes.Photo by Seth Littrell

George Seldon, member of the basketball team and a general studies senior from Los Angeles, Calif., studies with a tutor. The Bratzke Center offers mentoring and tutoring programs for student athletes.
Photo by Seth Littrell

BY: ZEYNAB DAY
zeynab_day@mymail.eku.edu

Balancing academics and demands can be a challenge. Eastern’s athletes met the challenge head-on during the 2012 fall term, finishing the semester with excellent marks.

Gene Palka, director of the Bratzke Student-Athlete Academic Success Center said the overall grade point average (GPA) for all the student-athletes was 3.01.

He said out of 374 student-athletes 45 recorded a 4.0 GPA, 95 made the Dean’s List and 53 percent finished the semester with a GPA higher than a 3.0.

Palka said the success could be attributed to organization and dedication put forth by the students.

“Making smart choices with selecting a major and effectively mashing academic and athletic schedules and choosing the appropriate courses are the keys to success,” Palka said.

The Bratzke Center monitors and assists with student-athlete success through mentoring and tutoring programs. Freshman student-athletes and transfer student-athletes are required to complete eight hours of study hall and regular mentoring activities, which are in place to help guide student-athletes in the right direction from the beginning of their academic career with Eastern.

Brittany Coles, forward for the Women’s basketball team, graduated in December and was recently selected for Eastern’s masters in sports administration program.

She said she frequently took advantage of the Bratzke Center’s services throughout her undergraduate studies.

Coles said her experiences at the Center her freshman year set her up for success throughout her academic career by establishing time management skills and routines early on.

She said she faced several challenges as an undergraduate balancing her athletic career and academics.

“We would go on the road for like four days sometimes,” Coles said. “It was important to communicate with my professors and do assignments early or email them sometimes.”

Cole said her coaches were flexible and allowed time for study as well as set high academic standards for the players.

Women’s and Men’s Tennis team coach Rob Oertel said his teams had very successful academic as well as athletic records in the recent years, with the men’s and women’s teams winning five conference titles combined in the past four years.

The women’s tennis team maintained the highest GPA of the Fall semester out of all the teams with a GPA of 3.69, while also winning the 2012 OVC title and advancing to NCAA tournament action.

Oertel said any student balancing life with academics could find the same success with the appropriate amount of focus and dedication.

“I think successful people in any faucet of life have a good discipline and, focus and direction,” Oertel said.

The Men’s Cross-Country team pulled in the highest GPA among the men’s teams with a 3.31.