As one who did just enough to stay academically eligible, I'm in awe of these true student-athletes that somehow manage to balance the intensity of a varsity team and its demands without losing sight of the real reason they are in school...to get the best education possible.
I get excited when I'm at a ball game and hear this kind of conversation... "Hey, you want to go to blah, blah, blah?" "I can't. I have a ton of homework." I also think it's great when I see kids sitting in the stands before or after their game with their nose in a book, calculator in hand working on some project or math problem. I've even seen a small "study group" made up of team members.
My hat also goes off to the parents of such student-athletes. Let's face it, moms, dads and guardians have to prod even the most studious of athletes occasionally. Even if it's just helping to keep a calendar of events for their children, it's an important part of (dare I say) the equation.
I had a friend in high school who missed the bus for the state regional track meet because he was taking a Spanish exam. Needless to say, the rest of team was not real happy with him. And I do believe he owed it to the team to make arrangements so as to not ruin what we had all worked for as a team. But his instructor had made it clear, take the exam or take an "F." My buddy, the first athlete in his family, didn't understand that such a threat was hallow and baseless. This was one of those I-hate-athletes teachers and she knew she could take advantage of this kid so she did. We lost the state track championship because of this mistake and we were all very upset (especially this kid after he learned the real rules about exams on days of events).
I was pretty angry because he was my best friend and felt he'd let me down. But as I got older and further away from the situation and gained life experience I came to learn given the threat of academic disaster or track disaster, my buddy really did make the right choice. He went on to become a rocket scientist (really!).
My biggest congratulations to those academic all-staters and those others who put books before sports and balance the fine line of classroom genius and athletic prowess. You have taught me great lessons.