BackTalk: Sarah Abramowitz

Chair of the Mathematics Department and NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR)

My volunteer duties as FAR revolve around helping student-athletes find a good balance between academics and athletics. During their seasons, students often come to my 8 a.m. class having already attended practice. I find their dedication and commitment to both their studies and their sports inspiring.

I’m usually contacted by a coach or a faculty member who has a concern about a student-athlete missing either a contest or a class. I might ask a coach if the student can be let out of practice 15 minutes early on exam days, or I might ask a faculty member if the student could attend a different section of a course in order to leave early for an away game.

Or let’s say a faculty member scheduled a mandatory field trip that conflicts with an athletic contest. That puts the student in an uncomfortable position, and sometimes they need someone to help them mediate that.

I attend athletic staff meetings, so I know the coaching staffs and athletics staff. If a student gets injured, Chris Ryan, the head athletic trainer, has to work closely with the student to make sure he or she gets the necessary recuperation time. Sometimes I contact a professor to discuss these accommodations.

Of course I’m a fan of Drew sports. When my daughter was 3, she mentioned that only boys play sports. I realized that because we watched a lot of professional men’s sports at home, she was internalizing what she saw on television. That semester, I had five members of the women’s basketball team in my class, so I started bringing my family to the games.

I don’t have firsthand experience of what it’s like to be a student-athlete. I do go to the fitness center and work out on the elliptical, if that counts.

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