Student-Athletes Performing On & Off the Pitch

By: Matteo Herrera

The University of Tampa has been growing and improving every year with their latest achievement of student-athletes being highly represented in the Sunshine State Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll. 10% of the athletes named to the Spring 2022 Commissioner’s Honor Roll are UT students, with a total of 170 out of 1,639 student-athletes. 

The women’s lacrosse team led the Spartan nominations with 32 representatives. 29 from UT’s women’s swimming, 28 from men’s lacrosse, 18 in the rowing team, 17 through softball, 11 coming from men’s swimming, 10 out from the tennis team, eight from the baseball team, six through women’s golf, four from men’s basketball, four from women’s basketball, and three out of men’s golf. 

“It truly is an honor, to see all the hard work pay off feels so good. My coach, Al Dufaux, always told us that school was the number one priority,” said Corbin Dorsey, UT tennis player who has a bachelors in finance and is currently pursuing a masters in professional communication. “He always encouraged me and my teammates to work hard not just on the courts but also in the classroom.” 

Lauren Blake graduated in May, 2022 with a BSN in nursing. She was a rowing athlete at UT, and the second athlete to graduate being a part of the NCAA women’s rowing team.

“Being a nursing student and athlete wasn’t easy. Up until a couple years ago athletes weren’t allowed to be in the nursing program due to the time and demand of the program,” said Blake. 

Athletes eligible to receive this award need to have a minimum of a grade point average (GPA) of 3.20. 363 out of the 1,639 representatives this year scored a perfect grade-point average, 37 of them being UT students. 

“Balancing college athletics and academics is a new learning experience that most athletes will go through and experience. I think what helped me was making sure I separated the two,” said Dorsey. “When I was on the courts practicing for those two-three hours a day, my focus was on tennis. For those hours my focus was on improving my game, helping the team, etc. As soon as I stepped off those courts I had to shift my focus to school.”

This is only the third time the Sunshine State Conference (SSC) has nominated over 1,600 student-athletes to the honor roll and at least 350 of them have scored perfect grade-point averages in the spring term. 

“I was blessed with the best team I could’ve asked for, and that goes for every year that I have been on the team,” said Dorsey. “Having teammates that not only support you on the court but off as well is so important. I knew I could always turn to them if I needed anything. Our team goal GPA for every year is 3.2. I don’t think there was a year that we didn’t hit that.” 

Adding to the achievements, 21 swimmers from UT’s men’s and women’s teams have been included in the Scholar All-American team for the 2021-22 season named by The College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA). 

“My teammates work incredibly hard, and I was so glad that I took a fifth year to be included in such a remarkable women’s team,” said Jessie Tobin, member of UT’s women’s swim team. “We were always pushing each other in the pool but it was also very important for all of us to stay on top of our academics.”

According to Tobin, the women’s swim team would do homework and study together as well as ask one another how a test or presentation went at practice. 

“These kinds of actions show the type of culture the women’s team created and it was very much supported by our coaching staff as well,” said Tobin. 

This award is given to students who achieved a GPA minimum of 3.50 and have been invited to compete in their national championships. 15 of the women’s team accomplished the honor and six from the men’s team. 

From the Scholar All-American Team, various topics are studied, but the majority are pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Followed by business, exercise science, finance, and others. 

“For student-athletes as a whole, I think it’s important to set your priorities. By doing this you can focus on the things that truly will help you in the future. Being a student-athlete is a privilege, not a right,” said Dorsey. “There’s also a reason it’s called a ‘student-athlete’. You are a student first and foremost. You represent the school, not just your team.”

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