From player to role model

Former student athlete takes over as the Student Athelete Supports Services Coordinator 

BY ELIZABETH CHAPA
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR

PHOTO BY NATHAN GARTNER
PHOTO EDITOR
As a former collegiate athlete, Ryan Lemasters relates to the challenges of being a student athlete. With his position as SASS Coordinator, he will serve as a mentor to student athletes, helping them fulfill their academic and athletic requirements.

Immense responsibility is put on the shoulders of college students, so if one adds being involved with a collegiate sport, the pressure only increases. It is vital for student athletes to maintain their grades so they can remain eligible to play their sport and be academically prepared as they continue on their collegiate path. However, that can become difficult for some to handle, so Schoolcraft Learning Support Services requires all student-athletes to join the Student Athlete Support Services (SASS) program, which is a resourceful, academic support program.

“Most four year university athletic programs have strong [academic] support, like Michigan or Michigan State, but at the two year college level, most academic support programs for student-athletes don’t have the depth that our system has. What makes our academic support system unique is that we have an individual whose sole responsibility is creating relationships with the student athletes and their faculty and coaches. It is very intimate and very relationship based. It’s has been proven to be very successful,” said Ryan Lemasters, SASS Coordinator.

Before Lemasters became coordinator this new year, Dr. Michael Oliver was the person in charge as the SASS Coordinator for the past five years. When he came into the position, there were 36 ineligible student athletes, but leaving the position, there were only seven ineligible. Oliver is now passing on the “Olympic torch” to Lemasters, a young 24-year-old who was a student-athlete at Schoolcraft in 2009 on Mens Soccer team.

“What Ryan brings to this program is two things,” said Oliver. “He already has the relationships with staff and faculty built because of his history here, and he has been a collegiate student athlete. We’re not talking about a guy that played 25 years ago; we’re talking about a guy that played 18 months ago. So when an athlete sits down to talk to Ryan, Ryan can relate to them both from an academic perspective and from a student athlete perspective.”

While at Schoolcraft, Lemasters was team captain all three years (2009- 2011) and took the team to Nationals his first year, where they took third place. In his third season, representing number two during the 2011 season, the team was ranked first in the country for half of the year and finished the year undefeated, however lost the district playoffs in a penalty shootout eliminating them from the National playoffs.

Lemasters’ influence on the Mens Soccer team did not end there; he also was their assistant coach for this past 2014 fall season when the team went to Nationals in Prescott, Arizona.

In between his time as a student athlete at Schoolcraft and later becoming an assistant coach in 2014, Lemasters attended Western Michigan University where he received a full athletic scholarship for soccer and studied philosophy and religion. While on the soccer team at Western for the 2012-13 and the 2013-14 season, he was selected as captain his senior season.

Now, Lemasters will carry his remarkable experience into the SASS program to create a strong and positive experience for current and future Schoolcraft student athletes.

“The fact that they [student athletes] know that this guy was a student and an athlete and is now running the academic support system, they’re already dialed in to having a successful academic experience,” said Oliver.

When asked if he had vision of where he wants the program to be when he leaves, Lemasters said, “I don’t ever want to leave.”

Lemasters will bring a fresh perspective to the SASS program as to how to help student athletes, because he was recently in their position, and can relate to their goals, as he probably had similar goals at one point.

“I really care about the program, because I am a product of this program. All the success that I have had as a student athlete is because of this program.”

As part of building onto the program, one his main focuses and goals is the recruiting process for high school seniors and transfer students, which will be a highlight in a brochure that is currently in development. It will discuss the all the academic support services offered as well as the athletics information such as, who they will be playing, how many national titles they have won, etc. He will make the process of introducing himself, and the SASS program right at the front of the recruiting process.

Lemasters also plans to be part of an electronic reporting system that will allow instructors to provide him with “real time” academic reports on all the student athletes. With this upgrade in the reporting system, he will be able to spend less time on paper work and more time providing student athletes with the support that they need. It will help create an “early alert” allowing him to reach out to athletes that are struggling, as well as make the instructor to intervention process smoother.

“It’s such a great time to be a part of the program, because I see really, really positive things in the future,” said Lemasters.

An eager and passionate individual will now be building on this fundamental program and continue to support our student-athletes both on and off the field and court.