Why grad assistants are the unsung heroes of athletics | GeorgiaStateSignal.com

Can I get an “amen!”?

Whether you want to be a coach, athletic trainer or simply remain a part of the sport you loved playing, a graduate assistantship can provide you with valuable experience while you study.

If you watch collegiate sporting events, then you’ve likely seen graduate assistants in action. They aren’t the ones calling the plays or playing in the game. They might, however, be the one rushing over to hand the coach the clipboard at a timeout.

Graduate assistants are all around courts and fields, working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that athletes and teams all operate smoothly. They have a variety of responsibilities that they must balance alongside their school studies. They are often the oil that makes the entire machine run smoothly, making life easier for both the players and the coaches.

Georgia State women’s basketball assistant coach Katie Pate has seen firsthand how hard the graduates must work and all that they contribute to the team.

“It’s arguably one of the most thankless positions in collegiate athletics,” Pate said. “Graduate assistants, no matter the sport, are in the trenches and I think [our graduate assistant] is really finding her way about the degree of willingness that is required to take advantage of the experience, good and bad, that you can learn as a graduate assistant.

“Some of the work isn’t fun, it’s not exciting, it’s not sexy, but it’s those experiences that lay the foundation for the ones to follow. I think she’s starting to latch onto the value in the grind.”

And what a grind it is.

Georgia State women’s basketball graduate assistant, Mercedes Jorge, explained the various roles she serves on the team. Jorge played basketball her entire life and is working as a graduate assistant as a step toward her goal of becoming a head coach one day. She has a list of off-the-court duties as well as in-game responsibilities like handing the head coach the clipboard at timeouts.

“We have a lot of different jobs,” Jorge said. “I’m in charge of our team managers; finding them, hiring them, scheduling them, making sure they do what they have to do. I’m in charge of our practice player squad, so I have to find guys who want to be practice players and make sure they come to practice. This year I’m helping with gear and ordering our gear. I’m in charge of all things video, so any type of scouting reports that we do I have to get all of the game footage and clip all of the games for those.”

She also must order and retrieve pre-game meals, post on social media, book hotels and make other travel arrangements for the team. Graduate assistants are basically used for anything and everything that the coaches need on a day-to-day basis. On any given team, they may serve as equipment manager, staff manager, travel agent, graphic designer and communication specialist all in one package.

Responsibilities vary greatly depending on the sport, staff and school. Some Georgia State teams may have several graduate assistants like football, while some teams may not have one at all, like baseball, beach volleyball and track and field. Some serve broad roles while others play very specific roles on the team, depending on each program’s individual needs.

Read the entire article at GeorgiaStateSignal.com.

Photo by Kevin Maillefer on Unsplash

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