“Good job Saturday, Shawn,” says Michelle Schmidt,
assistant professor of psychology, to a large young man with downcast
eyes in the HUB. “Thanks, Professor,” he answers softly.
was a tough loss,” explains Schmidt, who was Coach of
the Week for the September 28 game against Widener University
(final score: 27-20).
a Big 10 university, the distance between academics and athletics
is all but unbridgeable. (For anyone who went to Ohio State
the Woody Hayes era, it’s hard to believe he knew the
university had an academic program.) The entente is a lot more
at Moravian, where the game is still a game and football players
is not the only college to stress the connection between academics
and athletics. But few put it
into practice with
quite the cheerful spirit of the Coach of the Week program.
of the Week is adapted from an NCAA program at Division I schools
that tries to improve relations between academics
Even at a Big 10 school, after all, not every player is
headed for a professional sports career.
Moravian, the Coach of the Week does not draw game plans in chalk
on a blackboard
nor devise the drills that help
become a more limber, powerful, or responsive team.
though most faculty coaches aren’t able to do more than
attend practice and be visible on the sidelines at
the game, the experience is enlightening for both faculty and
all see our students and professional coaching staff
in a new light,” says
Dana Dunn, professor of psychology.
coaches get really involved. Michelle Schmidt was at practice
when assistant coach
set her up
as the “target” of
an agility drill. Big, burly football players thundered
up to don’t-fire-until-you-see-the-whites-of-their-eyes
range before shearing off to one side or the other
of Schmidt, who would have ended up as kindling if
one had missed his feint.
went in not knowing a huge amount about football,” confesses
Schmidt, who attended Drew University and George Mason University
a great football school. “My husband is a [Washington]
Redskins fan, and I’ll sit and watch a game with him occasionally.”
there she was, offering comforting words to Shawn Nelson. “A
football player in one of my classes thanked me for being there
at all the practices and
the game,” she marvels. “The players told me ‘We
need you there for inspiration’—or whatever it
is I do.”
professors, too, learn from the coaching experience. Alicia Sevilla,
professor of mathematics and chair
of the department,
was able to
attend only one practice
during her week, but she availed herself of a helper: her
son, Alex Queen, an eighth-grader at Nitsch-mann Middle School
Bethlehem, who plays
on his school team. “He explains it to me,” she
first time he was Coach of the Week, Chris Jones, assistant professor
of biology, told the team: “Everyone
in this room knows more about football than I ever will.”
that case, why should he want to be Coach of the Week? “I
yell well,” he
grins. Then he explains: “I’ve had a number
of football players in my classes, and I thought it was
important to get out and see what they actually
go through. It’s such a big part of their lives.
I wish we as faculty could inspire such single-mindedness.”
these professors confirm, the faculty coach comes to
understand how much time and energy is consumed by
The players, for their
that professors are human and approachable.
the meantime, Coach of the Week allows Cardinal to meet faculty
his own ground so that, when a student
has a problem,
on their turf. “I made it a point to go and meet
the people I knew I needed to meet,” he says:
student tutors at the Writing Center, Ron Kline of
the Counseling Center, Lori Roth in Learning Services.
And he’s not reticent
about telling a student with an attendance problem: “Get
your fanny to class.” (Though he probably doesn’t
I definitely believe in keeping this academic and athletic link going,” Michelle
says. “It’s about making a connection that otherwise wouldn’t