Athletic Program Helps Hawks Soar

Friday, August 9, 2019

by Gabrielle Lacherza

For most first-year students, summer is a time to vacation with family or relax poolside with friends before heading off to college. But for 15 freshman student-athletes at Saint Joseph’s University, part of summer was spent on Hawk Hill waking up at sunrise for morning workouts and strengthening study skills through a new program.  

Taking Flight was designed to help prepare incoming Hawks for the rigorous student-athlete lifestyle and introduce academic and athletic resources on campus.

“It can be challenging for freshmen to adjust to the demands of competing as an athlete in a Division I program, on top of college life in general,” said Janet Greder, director of educational support services for student-athletes. “We were excited to offer a beneficial program that provided a jump start for new athletes in a variety of different ways.”

Taking Flight is a collaborative effort between multiple departments on campus. Greder and her team developed a supportive network of faculty, staff, coaches and current student-athletes to help participants navigate through the program and provide hands-on development support. 

Students were required to take The Power of Sport for Social Change, a 3-credit course taught by Stephanie A. Tryce, J.D., assistant professor of sports marketing. The course connected to Tryce’s recent research on the many examples of athlete activism, and opened students’ eyes to how sports can globally advance social change.

Taking Flight also focused on physical development through intense workout sessions with Brian Bingaman, director of strength and conditioning, and his staff. Athletes familiarized themselves with the electronic weight room tracking system and were introduced to the nutrition program. As nutrition is currently one of the biggest concerns among student-athletes, participants received one-on-one nutrition guidance with Bingaman.

“One of the biggest things I learned from Taking Flight was the importance of sleep management,” explains Luca Trigiani ’23, an incoming member of the Hawk baseball program and finance major. “Focusing on getting the proper amount of sleep throughout the season will be a top priority of mine.”

In line with the Jesuit mission of Saint Joseph’s, one day of the program was dedicated to service work at Samuel Gompers Elementary School, located next to the University.

Leigh James ’23, who will join the back-to-back Atlantic 10 tournament champion field hockey team, is another student-athlete that had a positive experience with the program.

“It was helpful to participate in the Taking Flight program because although you have a good sense of what’s expected of you as an athlete, it’s hard to put into perspective until it’s a reality,” said James, a general studies major concentrating in social sciences. “This program gave us a chance to live that schedule and now I feel more comfortable and confident on campus.”

All freshman student-athletes are eligible to register for the three-week program. “Our ultimate goal is for all freshman student-athletes to take advantage of this program and we hope to double or triple our participation numbers in summer 2020,” Greder says. 

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