Passion or Profession: Athletes Contemplate Motivation for Competing in Collegiate Sports

Regardless of the possession, sophomore Kymberli Galdamez loves every part of playing volleyball at Santa Monica College.

A consummate team player, Galdamez isn't focused on scholarships and recruitment by other universities, but rather the love of the game.

"I have other dreams that I want to fulfill," said Galdamez.

Many athletes at SMC have recognized that the economy may affect what happens in their sports' future. However, attitudes differ on whether they're playing for recruitment or for the sheer passion of their respective sport.

With the economic recession going into the second year, SMC, like many other junior colleges, will need to become resourceful when cutting costs.  Universities are decreasing the number of students who are able to obtain scholarships as the divide grows between those playing for the love of the game versus those who aspire to take their game to a higher level.

While SMC has not felt the same financial impact as other community colleges, Athletic Director Greg Simmons recognizes cuts will be directed to the athletic department as a whole.

"The athletic department will cut back about 10 percent on the overall budget and the governing body will make changes on how to geographically make the conferences closer," said Simmons.

He believes that the changes will be economically beneficial for both the student athletes and the school.

Galdamez's love for the game is shared with a number of other competitors, most of which are fellow female athletes.

"My love for basketball goes beyond recruiting and scholarships, I just love to play," said SMC women's basketball player Haley Newell.

Many of the male athletes at SMC show a similar passion for their respective sports, yet are fueled by higher aspirations.

Roderick Benman, 24, a football player  at SMC, is extremely enthusiastic about his love of football, but his hunger for recruitment by universities and Division I colleges still remains.

"I moved from Oklahoma to California to play football," said Benman.

Unlike other athletes, Benman wants to play football professionally and feels SMC gives him the right avenue to receive both an education and a degree.

Unfortunately, the current economic crisis in California is not making the situation any easier for athletes at SMC. Still, many of those athletes remain undeterred by the recent scholarship cut backs and feel that persistence will create results. 

Charlie Oriel, a basketball player at SMC, believes in getting a free education and wants to be able to transfer into any university that offers him a scholarship.

The recession continues to impact the number of athletes that will gain scholarships.

"This year has been a tough one," said Simmons.

Despite the recent struggles, SMC remains steadfast in their attempt to make the transition smoother for athletes looking to obtain that elusive scholarship.

It seems that only time will tell whether or not the economy will further regulate the aspirations of these student athletes.

For now, many seem content to do what they do best: play the game.