Juggling Act: SMC Student Athletes Speak On Studies, Athletics

Being a student is tough enough of a task to accomplish. Now imagine being an athlete as well.


Not to fret, the students at Santa Monica College know how to hold it down.

One in particular even received an award this past season for Student-Athlete of the Year.

Charlie Burnett, 20 and receiver of the award, is listed as 6-foot 2-inches and 240 pounds. While living with his family a short while from Atlanta, Georgia, Burnett became tautly recruited by smaller universities around the area and the nation.

Ultimately, though, Burnett chose to fly out to Southern California where, as Burnett puts it, "the girls are fine (looking), the weather is [excellent] and the schools [are] great."

Burnett red-shirted his first year thus allowing him to stay on track with his studies, but started playing the next season and had to carry the burden of juggling academics with athletics.

"It was alright," Burnett said. "I managed."

Not only did he manage to pull of his studies but was able to learn more on the field as well.

Obtaining life and social experiences were an added bonus to the overall experience he received while at SMC.

"You really do get prepared academically and as an athlete here at SMC," said Burnett. "[Playing on the field and studying in the classroom] really does prepare you for what's expected of you in the real world."

Shortly after the season ended, Burnett received a scholarship to play the linebacker position at North Carolina A&T State University for his junior year.

Majoring in Liberal Arts with a transfer major in Sports Medicine, Burnett hopes to achieve his goal of getting an education above all else.

"That's the most important thing to me right now, not only doing well on the field because I don't know what might happen to me out there, but having an education will make it easier for me in life to get to where I want," Burnett said.

Not only does Burnett have his head on right, but others see their path to the future the same way.

Jennifer Hager, a forward freshman from Calabasas, came to the college because she wanted to. Unlike Burnett, who was recruited by a long list of colleges/universities, Hager went straight from her hot and dry high school in Calabasas to the cool, breezy SMC and has evolved from player juggling athletics and academics to a bonafide student-athlete.

"Even though I'm taking 17 units this semester, it's hasn't been too hard, especially with all the support I get from the coaching staff," Hager said. "We're like a family here, where you can count on them all the time to help and guide you."

Hager admits, though, that when she took 12 units in the fall, life as a student was pretty easy, allowing her to focus more on the athletics duties at the college.

Hager and Burnett are only a couple of examples of students who can still make it through the difficulties of upholding dual duties.

There are countless amount of students who sacrifice their time and pleasure to get ahead in life by taking the full load they're expected to take while also learning the discipline needed in life through the athletic programs at SMC.

As previously written by this organization, it was misleadingly stated that the coaching staff is not doing enough to make some of the athletics teams on campus the best they can possibly be.

After seeing the adversity all parties face, it should be noted that the coaching staff and their teams do their utmost best to accomplish all their goals and if they don't, then at least they can see their young students/players blossom into adulthood with more ease than before they got to school.

With people like Coach Benditson, Coach Taylor, Coach Jenkins, Coach Ryan, Coach Strong, Coach Contarsy, Coach Matheson, Coach Barron, Coach Goldenson, Coach Barnett, Coach Mayer, Coach Silva, Coach Kreman and the countless amount of people who are in charge of running the Athletics Department at SMC, they are the ones responsible for their students' achievements.

"I don't know what I do without them," said Barnett.

You succeed once you fail, and amidst the hardships that some teams had to endure, in the end they really won with players like Barnett and Hager who learn to strive to succeed while still upholding their responsibility as a human and a team player.

Kudos to all.