By Kaitlan Parker '17
Bridgewater College's Faculty Athletic Liaison mentoring program is designed to enhance the integration of academics and athletics. The Faculty Athletic Liaison (FAL) serves as an academic mentor to the student-athlete within the athletic arena, and will be able to experience and understand the balance required by the student-athlete to achieve success in both their academic and athletic endeavors. Bridgewatereagles.com will be featuring its FALs throughout the coming year.
BRIDGEWATER, Va. - Dr. Grace Martin, assistant professor of world languages and cultures, is taking her passion for basketball to new heights as the faculty athletic liaison for the men's basketball team at Bridgewater College. She spent many years at the University of Kentucky cheering on the Wildcats but she is now an important part of the support team for the Eagles.
The role of the faculty athletic liaison, according to Dr. Martin, is to provide a connection between the athletes and the other faculty at the college. For her the last year has been an eye-opening experience, getting to know the men's basketball team here at Bridgewater. "It is really rigorous," said Dr. Martin of the time commitment that athletes balance with sports and academics. She has found that being an FAL helps her to better understand the life of a student athlete. Having this understanding gives her the ability to help other professors understand what it means to be a student athlete. "When I talk to colleagues it is easy to tell them, 'you know when you have athletes in your class they are trying really hard,'" she said.
The team has made it easy for Dr. Martin to advocate for them to her colleagues. "It is heartwarming to see how much effort they are putting into being great on the court and doing the best they can with their classes," she said. Dr. Martin hopes that through her work as an FAL she can help other professors better understand the dedication of the student athletes at Bridgewater College.
Even though the athletes handle all of their responsibilities very well, Dr. Martin stresses to them that it is okay to ask for help. It is very important to her that the athletes know that they can reach out to their professors if they feel overwhelmed. "I think it is important to provide support and remind them this is a lot on your schedule; if you ever need any help you should feel free to reach out to either myself or any of your other professors," she said.
Dr. Martin has built up her connection with the men's basketball team in various ways. Sometimes she will show up to practices and start dribbling with the team. "While I am dribbling I will just approach them and ask them how they are doing and if they are enjoying their classes this semester," she said. Though she does sometimes come out to practices and dribble with the team she explains that her basketball skills end there. "Dribbling is easy but I don't know about much else. That much I can do though," she said.
Another way that Dr. Martin enjoys bonding with the team is by going to team meals at the Kline Campus Center Dining Hall. One meal in particular she really enjoyed was right before Christmas break when the men told her about their families and their traditions. She also enjoyed hearing about the gifts they were giving. "They told me about the gifts they were buying for their moms, which was very sweet."
Not only does Dr. Martin enjoy hearing about the gifts that they are giving but she also brings them a gift sometimes. "I like to stop by practice sometimes and bring cookies. I bring them these white chocolate and strawberry cookies that they really like," she said. The men always want to dive into the tub of treats she brings, but Coach always tells them that they have to wait until after practice.
Dr. Martin is constantly looking for new ways to help the team in all aspects of their lives. She will be giving a presentation to them on email etiquette when emailing professors or sending an email in a professional capacity. This gives the team an opportunity to see her in a different role that many of them have not seen her in before. "They will get to see me in my role as a professor in addition to the FAL that swings by to eat a meal or watch a game," she said.
When Dr. Martin isn't with the men's basketball team she can be found in Flory Hall teaching Spanish language and culture classes. Outside of her academic career she has many other interests. She is very passionate about music and enjoys participating in the Bridgewater College Choir. Not only is it a great way for her to pursue her musical interests but also is another way to connect with students. "It is another really good way for faculty to connect with students because the ensemble is mixed, we have faculty, staff and students," she said.
It is safe to say that Dr. Martin has truly enjoyed her time this far as a faculty athletic liaison at Bridgewater College. Coming from being a student and a professor at a large university like the University of Kentucky has given her a great appreciation for the small size of Bridgewater College. "I appreciate here that we have a smaller sort of closer-knit campus community so that we can be involved and participate in what our student athletes are doing," she explained. Dr. Martin is looking forward to continuing her role as the FAL for the Bridgewater men's basketball team.
Dribbling with FAL Dr. Martin
By Kaitlan Parker '17