The National Consortium for Academics and Sports and Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society created National Student-Athlete Day in 1987 to recognize and celebrate the academic and athletic achievements of high school and college student-athletes nationwide. To be recognized, a student-athlete must have a minimum 3.0 GPA, and must be involved in some sort of community outreach or community service. Both the NCAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations have since aligned themselves with the student-athlete-themed day (the NCAA’s involvement began in 1994).
The National Consortium for Academics and Sports developed the Giant Steps Awards in conjunction with National Student-Athlete Day for “student-athletes, professional athletes, athletics administrators, civic leaders, coaches, parents, organizations, and other individuals who exemplify the ideals of balancing academics, athletics, life pursuits, and giving back to the community through the spirit of athletics.” The NCAA provides colleges and universities with nomination forms for the Giant Steps Awards, and encourages its member schools to recognize the achievements of exemplary student-athletes on April 6.
This year, the Giant Steps Awards winners are as follows: Angelica Mealing, Courageous Student-Athlete, University of Central Florida; Nate Winters, Courageous Student-Athlete, Winter Park High School (Winter Park, FL); Chris Creighton, Coach, Drake University; Jeremy Bloom, Civic Leader; and Leroy Walker, Barrier Breaker.
So, how should schools celebrate their student-athletes on this day? The NCAS offers planning recommendations (such as luncheons, game-day celebrations, and proclamations from a city mayor or state governor) and publicity ideas for schools on its website.
The NCAA also offers a few specific suggestions/examples on its website:
College and university Student-Athlete Advisory Committees (SAACs) have created a variety of programs for National Student-Athlete Day. Some SAACs do community outreach by visiting patients at local hospitals, while other SAACs speak to elementary or middle school students about the importance of education. Some SAACs have hosted luncheons to recognize the accomplishments of their peers, while other SAACs have hosted interactive assemblies at their campuses for local students.
How many of you out there are taking the NCAS’s advice and celebrating your student-athletes today?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.