Inside the Monarchy
With spring comes the changing of the season and the passing of a generation
By Rich Radford
Around campus these days, you will occasionally find a collection of students posing with gowns on. Graduation gowns, that is. They will hang out near the lion’s fountain in front of the Webb Center and pose for selfies, wondering where the four years (or five, or six) went. And how it happened so fast.
OK, so this is a blog about athletics and we know readers constantly want to hear the latest about what’s what on the diamond, the pitch, the court or the field.
Still, the bottom line at Old Dominion University is the education.
When you are 30 years old and looking back on it all, it will be grand to reminisce about the home run, the 3-pointer at the buzzer, the touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone or the bend-it-like-Beckham goal you scored. But if you want to be a success, the sheepskin is the most important play an athlete can make these days.
So few make a living playing professional ball. And when I say “make,” I mean bank enough Benjamins to say this was their professional life. For ODU alums right now, there is Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander and at-the-moment Los Angeles Lakers guard Kent Bazemore.
Beyond that, there are a lot of recent ODU graduates honing their resumes and asking friends if they can connect on LinkedIn. And in reality, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
That’s why a couple of recent developments shine a nice light on ODU’s athletic programs as a whole.
1) Three of ODU’s athletic programs were recognized for being in the top 10 percent of all NCAA programs in APR (Academic Progress Rate).
2) This month and in August, ODU will graduate 50 athletes.
So many fans measure success on the wins and losses rather than the embodiment of an athletic program and the successes it can have while developing our next generation of leaders. For ODU to have three highly ranking programs in the APR measurement speaks volumes. The APR is a tricky endeavor, measuring retention and eligibility rates over a period of four years. Men’s tennis and women’s golf had perfect scores, meaning the athletes came, stayed, and excelled in the classroom, advancing their academic records at the pace the NCAA deems acceptable for on-time graduation.
Women’s soccer nearly had a perfect score, getting a 997 out of 1000.
You can overlook the importance of such things, but be reminded that the reason the University of Connecticut’s men’s basketball team wasn’t in the NCAA Tournament a year ago was due to a less-than-satisfactory APR. The NCAA takes these matters quite seriously.
Athletic director Dr. Wood Selig called the successes of ODU’s three specific programs a “testament to the commitment of our coaches, academic advisors and staff.” That should be taken a step further, for it’s the athlete, often tired from practice, travel and games, which must stay the course, so to speak.
Make that courses.
ODU has made a good first impression on its new Conference USA companions, placing 240 athletes on the commissioner’s honor roll for 3.0 grade point averages or better. That led the conference, and 41 of those athletes were academic medal recipients with GPAs of 3.75 or higher.
The soon-to-be graduates that ODU’s athletic department will produce this summer include a collection of thinkers majoring in a variety of eyebrow-raising subjects, such as:
· Anton Larson (men’s basketball), International Business and Maritime Supply Chain Management
· Alexa Cavalieri (sailing), Finance
· Amber Cook (women’s soccer) and Albert Ochagavia (men’s tennis), both Mechanical Engineering
· Meghen Cozens (women’s soccer), International StudiesFolks, in case there is any misinterpretation, these are not easy majors by any stretch of the imagination. These young men and women are setting themselves up for successes later in life. And that’s the real purpose of going to school. For while it’s an accomplishment to wear a uniform in college and to have a sport that can in many cases help pay for that education, wearing the gown, the cap, the tassel and in some cases the sash is what really counts