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Forging your path: Navigating being a student-athlete (featuring Churon Lanier)

My name is Churon Lanier Martin and I attended Gettysburg College. I played for the men’s basketball team for three years. I enjoyed my experience, and I hope to offer some wisdom that will aid you on your own.

First and foremost I would like to say that my priority in college was always my academic achievement. I was actually a preferred walk on meaning I was not recruited, so basketball was always just the cherry on top for me. 

Educationally, I have to admit my faculty was very supportive of me as a student-athlete. I also want to emphasize that I made sure to demonstrate my commitment to classes and that definitely helped me perform well in my classes. Just like you are expected to collaborate with your coach to become the best player, you should also collaborate with your professors and faculty to refine yourself holistically.

Being a black man at a PWI (predominantly white institution) like Gettysburg College, you have a unique set of challenges. My blackness was always something I had to acknowledge. Personally, my PWI was not radically different from our real world everyday experience. There will definitely be people whose views are different from your own, but just like some teammates you disagree with, we’re in this (world) together and should be seeking discussions instead of dismissions. 

My teammates were understanding and supportive as well and I think that was a very important part of the puzzle. Although I was one of the few black men on the team, let alone the campus, they still made me feel like I was seen and respected. From traveling to Italy playing European teams together, to pushing through preseason conditioning, and everything in between was invaluable and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity.

Simply put, the most glaring part of being an athlete is your ability to be versatile. My high school coach loves to say “skill divides” and I still think of the phrase quite often. I challenge you to see the college experience itself as an education and to not narrow your perspective of education to the classroom alone. 

You’re not responsible for anyone but yourself, however, I challenge you to not just be an athlete and not just shut up and dribble or fill in the blank. Your ability to think, communicate, and be self disciplined is what refines the leadership skills you observe in successful people, athletes and non athletes alike. Keep moving forward, in all arenas! 

Peace and blessings, 

Churon L

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