New academic support coordinator is a hit with both students and coaches
By John Trupin /// Staff Writer
Supporting student-athletes in balancing athletics and academics is part of the job for coaches and professors alike at Lewis & Clark. Now, with the hire of Kayleigh McCauley as the coordinator of student-athlete academic support this year, it has become a full-time position. For Pioneer athletes, McCauley’s presence on campus means they never have to feel alone on the field or in the classroom.
Kayleigh McCauley attended the University of New England, where she played field hockey and softball, and graduated with plans to attend graduate school and receive a doctorate. While in grad school in Pennsylvania, she worked in a support center for student-athletes.
“I fell in love with it,” McCauley remembered, “being able to give back. As a student-athlete myself, I thought it was really important to give back to student-athletes and make sure they have a really positive academic experience like I did.”
McCauley’s passion for support comes from the struggles she faced herself and observed in her time studying and playing for the University of New England, a smaller, Division III institution similar to LC.
“When I was an athlete, I didn’t have someone like me who could support me, academically, so I kind of had to figure it out by myself,” she said.
Nothing for McCauley is more valuable to a college student than being able to form, in her words, “real relationships” with supportive figures that will look out for students, and be able to provide necessary support.
McCauley completed her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi this year and is now fully focused on working with student-athletes whenever they feel they are struggling. Faced with over 350 student-athletes and coaches that all fall under her jurisdiction, she is excited to get to work.
McCauley has found the support of the community as a whole to be fantastic.
“The staff here is awesome,” she said. “They’ve been super welcoming and supportive of the work I do.”
With recent news stories highlighting academic misconduct relating to student-athletes at major universities like the University of North Carolina, it is refreshing to see such a positive scholastic attitude at LC.
“Academics are definitely the priority among coaches here,” McCauley said. “For a person in my position, having everyone in the department working on the same page is awesome.”
Seeing the “smiling faces” of student-athletes she has worked with already has made her transition easy. Her excitement with LC even translates to the weather.
“It’s like New England, but without all the snow!” McCauley said.
While working and studying at Corpus Christi for the past few years, McCauley was left without a chance to get out and play field hockey as she had done at the University of New England. Here in Portland, she has finally been able to return to the game. On Sundays, McCauley can be found racing through the competition in a local co-ed field hockey league.
A commitment to college athletics is physically and mentally demanding, especially at a school that holds its athletes to such high academic standards. Having support from someone who has been through the same steps and experiences can turn things around entirely for a student, and that is McCauley’s goal with her work.
If any student-athlete is struggling academically and needs some help, they can head downstairs in Pamplin Sports Center, in the direction of the tennis dome stairs, and turn left. In the office at the end of the hall you will find a wide open door, and a wave of support.