Athletics & Recreation / Magazine Feature

Student-athletes get lectures on game of life

This fall 80 freshmen DU student-athletes are attending workshops designed to help them score not only on the field, but also in the classroom and in life.

Student-Athlete Support Services at DU is using messages from Randy Pausch, the charismatic young college professor at Carnegie Mellon University who chronicled his battle with pancreatic cancer in a remarkable speech widely known as “The Last Lecture.”

Pausch died at age 47 on July 25 at his home in Virginia.

“Pausch’s message is that self-esteem has to be earned and that ‘brick walls are there to see how bad you really want something,’” says Heather Weems, assistant athletics director of Student-Athlete Support Services at DU. “We want them to know the experience they gain through intercollegiate athletics is irreplaceable, but also hard. We will ask much of them, but the return on investment is also great.”

The workshops, which last one hour each, cover roles, goal setting, self-advocacy and the process for achieving college dreams.

Weems says the Pioneers’ “most athletically successful year in history [2007–08]” helped spur the series of workshops. “We wanted to continue to raise the bar for performance and in working with our coaches, we were looking for a way to support them with messages about the importance of personal responsibility as a function of success.”

Chase Humphrey, a freshmen men’s soccer player from Ocean City, Md., calls the lectures “captivating and beneficial.”

“The lectures have opened up our minds and have allowed us to look at the big picture and what is really important during our tenure at DU,” Humphrey says.

That’s what Weems says she wants the lectures to do — to be motivating but also to give students perspective.

“All students will face obstacles, and I hope we give them the tools and resources to overcome and cope with some of their issues,” she says. “These are also skills that will help them not just at DU, but throughout their journeys beyond college.”

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