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2016 Linfield Magazine Winter

“Playing softball enriched my life and I think it contributed to my success in the classroom, but I also think that it contributed to my success more broadly in terms of teamwork and other life skills that sports offers.” – Denise (Jeskey) Farag ’88 Assistant Professor of Business regional and top 25 national finishes in individual and team events since Linfield moved to NCAA Division III in 1998. Faculty mentors Tensions between athletics and academics do arise sometimes, and Lee Bakner, professor of psychology and faculty athletic representative, hopes to mitigate that through a newly launched Faculty Mentorship program, modeled after a similar program at the University of Redlands. Bakner’s goal is to create more avenues for communication among coaches, athletes and faculty. Each athletic team is matched up with a faculty member. Like Bakner, who played football at Shippensburg University, many of the faculty who volunteer were also college athletes. “Many of us were student-athletes and we remember what those experiences were like,” Bakner said. “We are there to offer support at games or practices, to get to know some of these student-athletes and to help them know that faculty are more than people who teach and evaluate you or help you in a lab or other ways.” The faculty mentors will not replace the students’ academic advisors, but they can offer another avenue of support to both coaches and players and help promote communication, Bakner added. Mentors can serve as advocates between athletics and the faculty and address concerns on the part of faculty, coaches and teams. Denise (Jeskey) Farag ’88, the first in her family to attend college, majored in accounting and played shortstop on the Linfield softball team all four years. She went on to complete a law degree and practice law for several years, and now she is assistant professor of business at Linfield. She will serve as faculty mentor for the softball team this spring as a way to stay involved and connected with students and athletics. Eric Lawson Eric Lawson ’16 chose Linfield for reasons besides baseball. He wanted a small liberal arts school that offered intimate classes and an opportunity to know his professors. He’s a marketing and psychology double major and was accepted into the prestigious Kemper Scholars program, which provides scholarships and internship opportunities. He also serves as external communications chair of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). “Baseball gives me structure. I’m a better student in the spring when I have baseball than in the fall when I have more free time,” Lawson said. “I learned quickly that I can’t use baseball as an excuse and that I needed to communicate with my teachers.” The team won the NCAA championship his freshman season. The day after he returned he had two finals scheduled and spent the trip home studying. “I realized that nothing was going to be given to me by my teachers, which I’m grateful for,” he added. “I knew I had to be prepared.” It didn’t take him long to realize that there’s something special to being a student-athlete here. “The coaching staff is great and you understand early on that you are not the hotshot you thought you were,” he said. “You feed off all the other student-athletes who were here before you, who have the same values you do and who set the path for you. They aren’t afraid to tell you when you are not upholding those values – it’s a team-first mentality. It’s respecting your coaches, your teammates, your opponents, your professors and your fellow students. It’s this big sense of values that make up Linfield student-athletes. That’s what sets Linfield apart. ” Winter 2016 l i n f i e l d m a g a z i n e - 9


2016 Linfield Magazine Winter
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