Opinion: Artist-athletes are a ‘thing’
By Tess St. John
Yes, SCAD does have sports teams, many of which are record-holding National Champions. Many times, I’m shocked that many people at SCAD aren’t aware that we have an athletic department. Is it really all that strange? We’re like fish in a bowl when it comes to the curiosity of an art school having sports. Honestly, I’m not too sure why it’s so odd for artists to be creative in the classroom and on the field.
Are we still stuck on those high school fads that we think one has to be labeled with one certain ability or skill? Do we still think that someone on the football team doesn’t have the brains to finish a math test, or that because someone does theater they can’t maneuver a lacrosse stick? It’s thoughts like these that make certain people think that artist-athletes aren’t a “thing.”
As a SCAD artist-athlete who has won two National Championships while juggling three full class loads, I wish more Bees acknowledged the skills and abilities that we have. I don’t want a cookie or a gold star, I just wish more people were aware of our department. SCAD has earned so many fascinating achievements such as ranking number one in the nation for Interior and Fashion Design. That’s incredible. The men and women in those departments have experienced the realities of the real world, including time management, collaboration, and juggling so much all at once. Guess what? The same goes for us athletes.
Artist-athletes must be enrolled in three full classes each quarter to maintain eligibility to play. We have 15 hours of classes per week too, on top of homework hour. We practice two hours every day and travel on the weekends for games, meets or matches, and yet we still manage to earn four years’ worth of the Zag Sports Academic Merit Squad. It can be a challenging demand but it’s one that each of us chose to accept.
Any student at SCAD knows how intense the workloads can get. No matter what your major may be, SCAD prepares us for the real world and that can be intense. Even just the fundamental classes require immense attention. We all know how difficult it is to maneuver a bike or navigate the Red bus to and from class with a portfolio case half the size of our freshman bodies. Imagine having that plus a lacrosse stick flopping around on your handlebars. That’s an art in itself right there.
Artists are more than just people with a paintbrush that swab gouache on a canvas and athletes are more than just people who run up and down a field. It is possible to believe that an artist athlete exists, and SCAD is filled with so many of them. We’re setting ourselves up for professional careers in the classroom both on and off the field.
Collaboration is key at this school, and connecting with other students helps to expand our minds and vision for our own work. Try talking to a cross-country runner about how they manage to run to class on time and how they run a mile. Try collaborating with a swimmer ask them how they maneuver through the water and how they construct the layout of a building. And I’ll tell you, as a lacrosse player, a cross-country runner and a writer, artist-athletes do exist. Come hang with us on and off the field sometimes.