Supporting Your Collegiate Student Athlete

Stephen Troese Jr

Collegiate athletes are so focused on their sport that it’s sometimes hard to remember that they’re still only students.

They still have to go to class, live in the dorms, and take tests. They have friends both on and off the field. They have majors and minors, and often also have full academic schedules alongside rigorous sports schedules.

Stephen Troese Jr. says that even the most hard-working and academically conscious collegiate athletes need the right kind of help to make sure they reach their goals. Much of that vital support is in the hands of their parents.

Keep their Academics in Check

Nearly 200,000 student-athletes are awarded college scholarships each year within NCAA Divisions I and II schools. Most of those scholarships come with a required GPA.

Those college athletes that don’t receive a scholarship sometimes need to discover the motivation to keep up with their classes as they excel in their sport of choice.

While it may not feel that way to the student, sports should be thought of as an extracurricular activity; classes always come first. In fact, many colleges will not allow students to play sports if they are performing poorly in their studies.


Collegiate athletes can be so laser-focused on both academics and their team that they are less inclined to reach out to others if they are struggling academically, physically, or mentally.

One of the most important things parents can do is one of the simplest: listen. Parents can typically sense when something doesn’t feel right while talking to their children.

Ask questions and listen without judgment, whether it’s a question about their athletic performance or they are expressing difficulty with keeping up with schoolwork. Frequent and effective communication should always be a priority.

Stephen Troese Jr

Be There Without Being There

Sports are as much a part of parents’ lives as it is for their student-athletes. They drive children to practice, buy athletic gear and support them at games.

It’s a little different in college. Rarely can parents of collegiate athletes attend every game or know every detail of their training or growth, and that’s OK. If parents can’t be supportive in person, they can still be their child’s biggest fan from home.

Care packages, regular phone calls, and occasional visits all help immensely. In college, most student-athletes don’t need another coach, but they definitely still need their parents.

Encourage Breaks

College is a full-time job. Collegiate student-athletes often end up feeling like they are balancing two full-time jobs. Help with time management and developing effective study habits will help, but both of these can only go so far.

As a parent, it’s important to sense whether a student-athlete is either burned out or close to it while they juggle academics and team sports. Many athletes have the drive to keep going even during stressful or challenging times, so it’s important to realize when they’re pushing it too far.

In many cases, student-athletes may need a push from parents, with support from a coach, to know that taking breaks is more than OK. It may be essential to someone’s long-term physical and mental well-being to remember that it’s OK to not always be OK.