Solutions for Higher Education engages in deeper reflection of critical issues in the world of colleges and universities.
In Episode 38, President Scott L. Wyatt and Professor Steve Meredith are joined by Cam Oluyitan and Angie Nickerson to discuss their experience as student athletes at Southern Utah University.
Cam Oluyitan is a junior communication major and a member of the SUU basketball team. For Oluyitan, being on the basketball team has helped build a mental toughness that has helped him in all aspects of life.
“It definitely builds a mental toughness,” said Oluyitan. “Just that mind set that you can do anything on the basketball court, it definitely translates to the classroom or to anything in life. It is something that sticks with you, and I feel like it's made me a tougher person, physically and mentally.”
Angie Nickerson is a master’s student in public administration with an undergraduate degree in philosophy. Nickerson is a runner on the track and cross country teams at SUU. Nickerson credits her time as an athlete with teaching her to have grit, and push through hard times.
“I think that something that I've learned by being a student athlete is to be persistent,” said Nickerson. “Each and every one of us on the team has had times where we're struggling—we've had a couple of girls with stress fractures or people dealing with iron issues or just being in a slump for a year or so—and if Coach Houle had not been patient with us and if we had not persevered and stuck with it, then we wouldn't have a team. I think that is grit. Just sticking with something that you love and I think that is something that will carry into the next arena in life. Whatever we choose to do for our careers, if we're passionate and if we stick with it, I think that we can do really big things.”
Whatever it’s called, grit or mental toughness, athletics can teach students to keep going and push through hard times. No matter what a student athlete ultimately pursues in life, they will inevitably face obstacles, and having the training to overcome and do hard things can make all the difference.
“I have a new saying that I love and it's, ‘Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional,’” said Wyatt. “If we put into our heads that we know something is going to be painful, it is still our choice how to respond to the pain.”
Listen to Episode 38 here.