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Coaches stress academic success on National Student-Athlete Day

Fulton High School Men's Basketball head coach Justin Gilmore said it is important for athletes to succeed academically to help prepare for their future outside of high school. (FILE)

Friday marked National Student-Athlete Day.

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, there were nearly eight million high school students participating in athletics. The NCAA reported 480,000 collegiate athletes.

Coaches and activities directors said it is important to stress academic success in high school athletics.

"Not many of them will move on to the college level so it's important to make sure they're succeeding in the classroom as well to help prepare them for the future," Fulton High School Activities Director Ryan Waters said.

The men's head basketball coach at Fulton High School spoke to the importance of academics.

"We want them to be successful in the classroom and out of the classroom. When they leave here we want them to be successful adults when they go to college or join the military or go into the workforce," Head coach Justin Gilmore said. "We want them to be successful there and that really all starts with the classroom."

In Missouri, student athletes must be enrolled in at least 80 percent of the full course load.

At Fulton High School the Activities Office monitors students' grades, sends them to coaches, and watches for students who have grades slipping into the "C" or "D" range.

Waters said his coaches come up with ways to keep their athletes on top of their school work.

"I've heard several different things that coaches use. They do study groups on buses. When they're on away trips they do study groups in the locker room, and study groups on the way home," Waters said. "In this day and age these are the things our athletes have to do in order to be successful in the classroom and on the field or court."

Waters also said many of the school's best students are also athletes.

The school also said it helps student-athletes manage the pressures that come with balancing school and sports.

"It's a love aspect. We love our athletes and they love us. We're constantly working on developing those relationships so they feel the can talk to us about something. Whether it's something on the court, or in the classroom, or a stress at home we want them to know we are there for them," Gilmore said.

Waters said the school has resources readily available for student-athletes who might be stressed.

"We have our counseling office that does a great job at having an open door policy. Our coaches have an open door policy. A lot of those student-athletes might not speak up about stresses they have, but we support them when they do," Waters said.


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