Hackett lends a helping hand

If you ever decide to walk into SMC's Athletic Department on a Monday or Wednesday afternoon, you may find yourself engulfed in a line of student-athletes. However, these young men and women aren't waiting to speak with a coach. No, they're waiting for a word with Cedric Hackett, Santa Monica College's Athletic Counselor. Student-athletes tend to have more of a difficult time with academics; juggling both demanding sports schedules with classes. It's guys like Cedric who work long hours to make sure they find a balance, whilst excelling in their academics.

The process at times can sound daunting. First, Cedric assesses where a student-athlete is personally, motivationally and academically (pre-college characteristics). Then, the individual must take both the English and Math assessment tests.

From there, a student education plan must be created which includes: course selection, schedules, financial packaging, career goals, social integration, usage of technological resources, and academic integrity.

Being an athletic counselor in general is quite a demanding task. Now, throw that position at the junior college level, where student-athletes attempt to transfer studies elsewhere, and the job becomes even more difficult.

"I love being an athletic counselor," said Hackett. "I just don't have enough hours in the day."

Cedric was a former strong safety at Ventura College, where he earned a letter scholarship to Eastern New Mexico University. He later finished up at Cal State Northridge and has been working at SMC for the past four years.

Associated with the National Athletics Academics Advising Association (N4A), California Community College Athletic Academic Advisor Association (3C4A), and the National Association of Student Personnel Administration (NASPA), Cedric strives to erase all prejudices and stereotypes related to student-athletes.

"I've always wanted to be a helper. I could use lived experience," said Hackett.

Dr. Harry Edwards was an author and well-known sociologist who dedicated most of his work to understand the black athlete. He's been a staff consultant for many professional sports organizations.

"Edwards wrote that a black dumb jock is not born, he is systematically created," said Hackett. "My job is to promote success academically and athletically to produce a new stereotype and that is a student-athlete, college going culture."

Byron Rutherford, a former SMC student-athlete who got a full ride scholarship to Temple University for football, praised Hackett. "Come to Cedric, you can make it; anything is possible if you put your mind to it and stay on the grind," said Rutherford.

Rutherford was originally tested in the lowest Math and English classes.  Due to hard work, accessing all of SMC's support services, and Cedric's guidance, he was able to achieve high levels of success both on the field and in the classroom.

"Academics count more than talent. They're going to look at your grades.  That's the first thing they're going to ask, how your grades?  What kind of student is he?" said Rutherford.

Damon Middleton, another former SMC student and football player who received a full scholarship to play and study at Charleston Southern University, also started out with low Math and English placement scores.

"These counselors like Cedric Hackett really help you to take necessary classes you need to take," said Middleton.

"I'm always proud of my guys!" said Hackett, "They were committed to the goal despite any obstacles in their way."

Hackett is finishing up his doctrine at Cal Lutheran this May. His dissertation is on the experiences of male athletes in the community college system.