Get In The Game: The Student Athlete Perspective
Jennifer Hansen, Student Support Specialist
Being on a team is a community building experience that requires you to learn to trust and depend on others. It means accepting help and giving help as the team works together toward a common goal. It often also demands sacrifice, resilience, and learning through failure. These are qualities that translate into skills that are beneficial in the classroom and throughout life: a sense of self awareness and a growth mindset.
Students who enjoy sports and want to have an active lifestyle will find many options when coming to the University of Arizona. Kelly Miller, who oversees club and intramural sports for Campus Recreation says, “Intramural sports are the biggest draw for students that want to play sports on campus.” With a low barrier to entry and a small fee, students can choose as little as one or multiple intramural sports to participate in. From badminton to basketball, to ultimate frisbee and tennis, there is something for everyone, regardless of previous experience.
For the more serious student athlete, club sports are a great option. Club sports are distinct from intramurals in that they are much more organized and often require tryouts. Club teams compete with other teams which can require significant commitment on the part of the student. Many students involved in club sports have been practicing their athletic skills and competing for years. Two such athletes are Ryan Price and Brody Selman. Both are sophomores who use the SALT Center’s services to help them be successful, both in and out of the classroom.
Ryan Price is a pre-business major from California who has been playing tennis for over half his life. “I started playing when I was 10 years old and became more serious about the sport when I was 13,” he shared. Ryan was Team Captain during his senior year of high school and had the goal of continuing to play tennis during college. Club tennis has allowed him to do that, but wasn’t the only part of the puzzle. “The main reason I came to this university is because of the SALT Center,” Ryan shared. While researching universities that offer support for students who learn differently, his high school counselor shared with his family that the SALT Center offers one of the best support programs in the country. It was a decision that Ryan has not regretted.
Ryan uses the SALT Center’s services and shows up faithfully for his weekly meetings with his Student Support Specialist where academic progress, goals and time management are discussed. Ryan is no stranger to the importance of effective time management. Each week, Ryan fits in the necessary time to study independently, attending SALT Center study groups or tutoring sessions in between practice and his commitments to the tennis team. He has found the math study groups led by Jessica Stansel, SALT Center Senior Coordinator for Academic Intervention Services, to be particularly helpful. “It’s been great having Ryan come to the MATH 100 and MATH 112 Study Groups,” Jessica adds, “He works hard and even when the class can be frustrating, has a great attitude and perseveres.”
At age 4, Brody Selman first learned how to ice skate and was introduced to the sport of hockey, forever transforming his future and setting him on many journeys throughout the United States and abroad. This resilient New Jersey native had already overcome many obstacles before first stepping foot on the ice as a toddler. As a twin born several months prematurely and weighing just 1 ½ lbs. each, Brody and his brother spent the first 10 years of life juggling doctor’s visits and overcoming the physical and mental toll of health problems related to their premature arrival. A diagnosis of dyslexia in the 1st grade led to him transferring to The Windward School, which specializes in teaching young learners with language-based learning disabilities. This meant that Brody would not attend the same school as his brother Ryan, news that initially was hard for them because of their close relationship. Brody credits this specialized learning environment with giving him the resources and tools he needed to be successful, but there were sacrifices made along the way. The school was 45 minutes away in New York, which meant waking up early for the commute. After school, Brody would be dropped off at his father’s workplace where he would complete homework, eat dinner, and then head to hockey practice by 7 PM. The routine became more than just a daily habit.
“I think one of the reasons why I always loved hockey so much is because school was tough for me. Hockey, when I was younger, was an escape. When I put in the work (on the ice), I would see results. In school, I would put in the work and the results were there, but they would come later. School was hard for me, so once the bell rang, I could focus on hockey.”
His dedication and love of the sport would take Brody to numerous cities to compete. During his junior year in high school, he was admitted to the prestigious United States Hockey League (USHL 18U). This meant relocating to Nebraska and starting a new school during his senior year. While in Omaha, Brody lived with a host family and traveled to cities far and wide showcasing the team. This meant learning how to adapt quickly, making friends with his teammates and juggling academics. The discipline of organizing assignments and managing school while traveling with the team paid off. It was an experience that has led to strong friendships and opportunities. Brody credits his family to his success. “I couldn’t do any of this without them,” he shares, speaking fondly of his parents, four siblings, and grandparents.
Brody toured numerous college campuses after high school graduation, and knew he wanted a larger university experience. After connecting with Head Hockey Coach Chad Berman, Brody knew Arizona could offer the experiences he was looking for. Arizona Hockey holds a special place in the local community as the team has numerous nationally acclaimed community service awards and continually gives back to various non-profits and organizations in the community. The players are role models both on the ice and in the classroom, playing in front of 4,000+ fans each game with loyal supporters, including some fans that have been 30-year season ticket holders.
The SALT Center was another program at the university that caught Brody’s attention. Brody had heard about the SALT Center from a family member who was part of the program years ago and was encouraged to apply. Brody says that the SALT Center is, “like a home away from home. I stop in, say hi to people I know and do work. It’s a nice reset. I meet once a week with my specialist, talk strategy, what assignments and work I need to focus on, we create goals and it’s awesome.” Coach Berman has had several players participate in the program over the years and speaks highly of it saying, “It’s been nothing but a great experience with every single player that I’ve had that’s been involved in the SALT Center.”
An exciting highlight of Brody’s summer included playing on the United States hockey team at the 2022 Maccabi Games in Israel. Brody scored the first goal which was undoubtedly, “one of the coolest moments in my life,” he said. The team went on to make Maccabi Games history as the first USA hockey team to take home the gold. Looking ahead, Brody is eager to embark on classes within his major, a BA in Law with a minor in Sports Management. He will also help lead as an Assistant Captain on the hockey team this year. The New Jersey native has made Arizona his home away from home and captures the Wildcat spirit as he proudly shares, “Everyone here is eager to learn, to get better. There is a sense of pride to be at this school.”