Student athletes, not athletic students

SHS pushes new and improved form of study tables to instill a different education standard for athletes


Grace Elder

The SHS varsity football players take time before their game against the Falcons to focus on their grades.

With grades being one of the many victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of eligible players for fall sports teams was dwindling too. However, Athletic Director Brian Murphy was able to come up with a solution.
Freshman athletes are now being offered new and improved study tables. These not only allow students with poor grades to become eligible for playing sports, but they also help maintain grades for students who are already eligible so they don’t get behind and lose their chance to play.
“They help make everybody sit down, have books or a Chromebook in front of them for a set amount of time and give them an opportunity to take advantage of some time to get work done,” Murphy said.
Students seemed to need an opportunity to complete work they couldn’t complete during the regular school day. The SHS athletic staff saw that and wanted to provide a quiet, distraction free environment to complete assignments.
Study tables started a couple years ago at SHS, but now they are required for freshmen and for students who are struggling with keeping their grades up while also helping them catch up on classes they are struggling in.
“I think they are very helpful, I have been able to keep up on my projects this year, and homework,” freshman Luke Jordan said.
Students soon realized that grades were a decision maker on whether or not one got to play sports in high school, and definitely in college.
“We thought that there were too many athletes that were getting behind in the first couple years and then, would kind of mature and figure out ‘Hey I’ve gotta chance to go play sports in college,’” Murphy said.
While the idea is accredited to former Athletic Director Pete Hubert, the program was always a part of head coach Alex Bettag’s initiative. He wants student athletes to focus on academics, and his main goal is to set students up for success post high school, whether that be going to college, joining the workforce or joining the military.

Assistant coach Micah Brown encourages his players to do their best before kickoff against PMHS on Aug. 27. The Cards lost 42- 7. (Grace Elder)

“For SHS you have to pass five classes, that’s not good enough for us, ” Bettag said. “We want our guys to set themselves up for success so they have a high enough GPA if they want to go play football at the next level or get into the school they want to get into.”
Many of the athletes also think study tables have been helpful and believe the time given is good to have a book or a Chromebook in front of them to just get work done. They give them time to get on top of their work, so as to not get behind and become ineligible to play.
“They give me time to catch up on my work that I can’t really get to during the day,” freshman Charles Hansell said.
This program is required for all freshman football players regardless of academic status. If the athlete doesn’t have all A’s, then there is something to work on. If someone is a straight A student, then they use that time to make sure they keep up with their grades.
The numbers clearly prove that Bettag’s program has already been successful.When he first arrived at SHS last year, there were 34 players ineligible, now there are only two.
“The kids are using the time wisely. Very rarely have we had to really get on anybody about staying busy,” Bettag said. “It will take some time to see if it’s beneficial grade wise, but right now I think we are off to a really good start.”