Austin College’s newly reorganized Center for Student Success and Access Services now provides centrally located academic support specifically geared to student-athletes. Cece O’Day is in her second year as Coordinator for Student-Athlete Success, and as a former Division III athlete herself, she understands the time, dedication, physical and emotional strength that are needed to succeed.
“The students here are concerned with their academics, and they just want to keep playing their sport,” she said. “We have nearly 40 percent of our student population as athletes. We call it ‘the something else’ that makes the college experience satisfying. It could be pep band, theatre, or for these students—it’s their sport.”
For those who need added support to be their best in the classroom, Cece’s door is open. “I have students I meet with weekly to talk and stay on track,” she said. “And I do a lot of referring on to the next step, such as tutors, the writing center, or the counselor.”
As an outcome of her work with student-athletes, Cece was the catalyst to charter Chi Alpha Sigma, a national student-athlete academic honor society at Austin College. With the endorsements of Athletics Director David Norman and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Beth Gill, the charter class was inducted in Spring 2022, with Cece as sponsor.
As one of 308 chapters nationwide, the Austin College chapter follows these eligibility guidelines: the student-athlete must attend a four-year accredited college or university that is an NCAA or NAIA member; hold a cumulative minimum 3.4 GPA; and have an endorsement from their head coach and be of good moral character. Austin College has chosen to reserve membership for senior class athletes.
“I think it’s motivating for the athletes,” O’Day said. “They know that someone is paying attention to all they are accomplishing.” Members of Chi Alpha Sigma received recognition at their Commencement ceremony and are eligible to apply for national graduate level scholarships.
“We have a lot of truly excellent student-athletes,” say Cece. “That’s one of the really fun things for me to recognize with the honor society. Once you’re pursuing excellence one place, you’re pursuing excellence everywhere. It’s fun to watch them do it, and it’s fun to help along the way.”
|Charter Class of Austin College Chi Alpha Sigma Inductees
Jacob Hanes, Tyler James
Mari Prazak, Brooklyn Talley
Nick Kazanas, Xander Spurlock
Sarah Carmichael, Taylor Dornseifer, Meredith Harris, Hailey Woodard
|Men’s Water Polo
Kyle Brown, Taiton Fox, Will Koelzer, Tanner O’Dwyer, Brett Skinner, Sam Skinner
James Adams, Sergio De Paoli, Kyle Lemke, Jordan Miller, Jon Voos
|Women’s Water Polo
Shannon Berry, Kendall Katusak, Brooke Le, Sophie Oliver, Valery Piachonkina, Madison Taylor, Lexi Wong