Recognizing Student Athletes

There are more than 460,000 student-athletes enrolled in universities across the United States. Student athletes are under constant pressure to not just to keep high GPA’s, make progress towards a degree or certificate, and balance a challenging practice schedule each semester, but they are also challenged to excel in their sport. Screaming fans, demanding coaches, and dreams of one day playing the game professionally can make some students feel pressured to put their sport in front of their studies.

It’s all too easy to celebrate winning the big game and rewarding athletes for their success on the field. Trophies, MVP awards, and game balls are all great ways to congratulate an athlete on a job well done. But what are colleges and universities doing to reward student achievements off the field? In all sports, the chances of a student going from college to pro is less than 2% in the United States. By not putting academics in front of their athletic success, universities could be setting students-athletes up for a rude awakening.

Recognizing the achievements of student-athletes both in the game and in the classroom is important to their success after college. Being motivated to perform well in the classroom can mean higher degree completion rates among athletes, making them more prepared to take on “real world” careers after graduation. Here are some ways Levy Recognition can help collegiate sports programs and universities recognize student-athlete achievements.

Academic Awards

Academic achievement or performance is the extent to which a student has achieved their short or long-term educational goals. Cumulative GPA, making the Dean’s List and completion of educational degrees represent academic achievement. Collegiate sports programs can celebrate these achievements by gifting athletes who make such achievements with symbols of recognition. Award plaques and framed certificates can be presented throughout the academic year when new goals are reached.

Humanitarian and Volunteer Awards

Many college athletes choose to be involved in programs that support their religious, political, or humanitarian beliefs. Often times, they remain active supporters long after graduation. They may even decide to create and run their own foundation dedicated to supporting their cause. Balancing time for studying, team practices, and volunteering is a challenge. Facing that challenge and excelling in all three deserves praise. Choosing to present a “Spirit of Service Award” to a deserving student-athlete could be the motivator they need to continue pursuing their passion to help their community.

Leadership Awards

On and off the field, student athletes give their all. They set the example of what it takes to be a dedicated student and a hard working athlete. Leadership isn’t simply defined by the number of points scored in a game. A student athlete who demonstrates excellence in leadership development, campus life enhancement, community contributions and general involvement in the university community can be a leader.

Other Honors

Rewarding student-athletes for their campus involvement and academic success can boost their ability to succeed once they’ve reached graduation. Here are a few other ways to award student success:

  • Unsung Champion Award- to recognize a student-athlete who rarely receives recognition for his or her work "behind the scenes.”
  • Commitment to Justice Award- to recognize a student-athlete who has demonstrated a commitment to justice and/or has been an activist, trying to create positive change for the campus.
  • Collaboration Award- to recognize student-athletes who have worked together to benefit the team, the university, or organizations they are part of outside the sports team.
  • Best New Student/Rising Star Award- to recognize a first-year student-athlete, not necessarily a freshman, who has excelled academically and beyond.
  • Don’t forget coaches! Outstanding Coach Award- to recognize a coach or advisor who has demonstrated dedication, availability, and energy in their involvement with their student-athletes.

It takes grit to be a student-athlete. There are numerous pressures that make it difficult to balance academic and athletic life. Many student-athletes forget that they are students first and it can be difficult to stay motivated to complete their academic goals. Universities and collegiate sports organizations who recognize academic achievement may contribute to a student’s ability to stay focused and motivated.

Let Levy Recognition help your organization create a student-athlete recognition program that encourages them to work just as hard in the classroom as they do on the field.

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