McMurry has a long and storied tradition in the sciences. But the tradition in athletics is just as far-reaching. Only at a small school like McMurry do those worlds blend so effortlessly. I can’t imagine a major state school having their hard-core sciences so heavily populated with athletes (or more correctly STUDENT athletes) as we see here.
In my junior-level microbiology class this morning are 18 students. Among them are a baseball player, two football players, two swimmers, a men’s basketball player, a tennis player, and three tracksters. There is also a former women’s basketball player and a cheerleader. Though this semester is a little unusual, it is never hard to find someone involved in intercollegiate athletics in my classes or those taught by my colleagues in the sciences. Last semester? My star student was a women’s basketball player and also in the class were swimmers, tracksters, and football players. Some this semester are BIMS majors, some plan to pursue careers in nursing or other science-oriented majors. No special courses for them.
Teaching an athlete-laden course is a challenge, for sure. Partnership between faculty and coaches and the athletes themselves make it work. Their travel schedules require them to miss a class here and there. They are always conscientious to make up the missed work and our faculty are willing to work with them to keep them caught up. But for every challenge that is faced by their dual lives, a benefit is received. We enjoy knowing them well and joining them in fulfilling their dreams to be collegiate athletes. When their teams win, we celebrate with them. And we are doubly happy when they manage to conquer their courses as well as their opponents.
For all who think balancing the lives of a college athlete and college student must be impossible, McMurry has hundreds of examples who do it very well every day.