After a blowout Panda Game “3peat” Carleton Raven’s Defensive Back AJ Thompson (#36) breaks down what it’s like academically to play football at the university level.
Have you ever wanted to become a Raven football player? Here’s what it takes.
Q: Is it hard to stay on top of your work while playing football?
A: A huge thing is motivation to do our work. Because football takes up so much time, you have no free time so as soon as you get home or as soon as you get an assignment you have to start it right away. If you try to do it last minute there’s going to be a practice or a game or something’s going to come up.
“You really have to make sure your time management is on point when it comes to doing school.” – Thompson
Q: How has football helped you in your academic career?
A: Football and my academics are tied together in a lot of ways. It’s helped me with motivation to keep my grades up so that I can keep my scholarship and stay eligible because you need a certain grade point average (GPA) to be eligible to play.
Q: What sorts of resources are available to players in regards to academic support?
A: What’s really great with the football team is, we’re focused a lot on academics, our Defensive Backs coach, Coach Hall is also our academic coach. There are weekly meetings, bi-weekly meetings or monthly meetings depending on what kind of student you are. So [for example] every week you meet with the coach and he goes over what you have due when, you bring in your grades to him and he helps you figure out what to work on.
Q: What about peer help or help from other players?
A: On Monday nights we have a study hall in which there are a couple student academic mentors – I’m one of them – so I have four players that I meet with…and talk them through first year and make sure they’re on the right track.
Q: Is every player on the team required to partake in study hall?
A: So study hall is a two hour mandatory [program] for certain players that need a little more academic support but it’s always open for everyone on the team to come in.
Q: What things were important in high-school in terms of recruitment that remain true today?
A: A big part of recruitment is selling yourself – just making sure that coaches see you acting appropriately, doing the right thing, showing up on time, having good grades as well as being a good player.
Q: How have those skills continued to help you in your university career?
A: Now that I’m in university I still have to go to class, go to practice, eat right so a real effort in time management really needs to go into it.
Q: What are some strategies you use to keep yourself organized and on top of your work?
A: Honestly, the calendar on my phone is laid out from wake up to go to work, grocery shop etc. Laying it out in a visual way is something that works best for me so as soon as I get something I put it in my phone and lay out a “term plan”. So [for example] if I know next week is going to be a busy week, I can start stuff ahead of time.
Q: How has being part of the football team changed the way you see Carleton?
A: Athletics is one way schools are kind of measured against each other. So I think being a part of the football team gives us a big sense of pride because we want to make Carleton a place that people want to go. As well as when you’re walking around campus and you see the Raven logo it means something a little bit more to you because it’s on your jersey.
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