Student athletes face uphill battle3 min read

Further budget cuts may affect programs and athletes lives come this November

Rajvir Kaur

They are full time De Anza students, part- if not full-time employees and they are also young adults who deal with the everyday life of both home and school. But this group of students has one more commitment: they are student athletes.
This group, estimated at between 450 and 480 students, is what represent De Anza College and its students in 19 different sports. They are the De Anza Dons, spending every waking minute in school, practice, games, study hall, work, and where-ever else they need to be.
Standing behind these athletes are their coaches, who push their kids above and beyond what they are capable of becoming. The coaches do not just coach a sport, but also teach life lessons.
“It’s not just about playing basketball,” said women’s head basketball coach Arden Kragalott, using her girls as an example. “It’s about learning about life and how to get through difficult times. We teach them everything about life.”
Playing sports has many benefits. Head coach of men’s basketball, Jason Damjanovic, and head football coach Dan Atencio stand behind their words when they say that for their kids, sports is what keeps them in school.
Basketball point-guard George Henderson said that without sports he would “not have that same urge” to get up everyday to go to school.
“I probably wouldn’t even be at De Anza. I would probably be working or something,” he said.
Football’s wide receiver Bryan Fobbs added that if it hadn’t been for the privilege to play in a sport, which keeps him occupied and focused, “I would have gotten into a lot more trouble.”
Volleyball coach Dawnis Guevara describes the impact of sports on athletes as their source of motivation. Because of their “want” to compete, students are determined to keep their grades up, which ends up making them more successful in the long run, she said.
Volleyball’s middle blocker Sarah Wallace called sports an “escape.” Women’s water polo driver Alex Drachnik said she would relate playing in a sport is how she deals with the pressure of classes, finals and school in general. Being privileged to play in sports gives you the ability to “just go and play,” said Wallace.
Being held to higher standards than the average student, by the college and state, student athletes have to stay on top of their classes and maintain a certain GPA in order to fulfill their hunger to compete.
Men’s water polo driver Pedro Romero said playing a sport has made him a better person and encourages him to try harder in order to maintain the academic requirements and to keep on playing.
De Anza’s Athletics department has taken many cuts already and there are many future cuts to come, especially if Proposition 30 does not pass.
The college’s Iinstructional Budget and Planning Team recently listed three unnamed athletic teams among 10 programs to cut if the budget does not improve.
Sports has been and continues to be an area more targeted than others and all coaches agree that if Prop. 30 fails, they are going to “get hit pretty hard.” Some argue that cutting teams would only cause further enrollment woes.
As stated on the De Anza website, a part of the mission of the college is to challenge students and develop characters and abilities and turn students into potential leaders. If PE and Athletics get cut, along with other smaller departments, some students may not get that privilege of completing their mission.  

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