Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Faculty mentoring continues development

Augustana implemented a plan this school year which allows academic faculty and coaches to work together to enhance athletes’ “Augie Experience.”
The program began at the beginning of the fall sports season in 2014, and has continued into the current spring sports season, but Zapolski says it’s still a work in progress. He stated that it will likely take a little longer than just one year to truly gauge its overall success.
“You’ve got to start somewhere,” said Zapolski. “But, we are very pleased that we’ve got it started and we look forward to it continuing as we move forward.”
Faculty members include biology professor Dr. Bob Tallitsch who serves as a mentor for the women’s lacrosse team.
Tallitsch said that upon assuming the role of faculty mentor, he has attended a few practices, met the entire team, and he also encourages team members to visit his office, whether it be to discuss any questions or academic problems, or just to simply say hello and eat from the jar of M&Ms he keeps on his desk.
He says there are many student-athletes who come in to speak with him regularly, some who visit less often, and some who haven’t come in at all. But, he says that behavior fits with his own personal philosophy as a faculty mentor.
“My goal in this program is not to force my presence upon the players,” said Tallitsch. “So, I try to make myself available to the players if they need me, and also make it known that I care about them.”
Tallitsch said his decision to be the mentor for women’s lacrosse was not a hard one to make. He had already been involved with women’s lacrosse for the past few years as a fan, and also as a friend to former head coach, Sara Tisdale. Tallitsch said he befriended her almost immediately when she arrived to campus and that he was very active in helping her recruit prospective athletes as well.
“As a result of befriending Sara (Tisdale) and involving myself in the program, I got to know all of the players really well,” said Tallitsch. “I love watching them play.”
This program has the potential to bring success to not only current students, but prospective recruits as well. Zapolski feels as though the faculty mentor program will provide future student-athletes and their families a way to feel confident that the student-athlete will be able to focus on the “big picture” of college life, and not just their sport.
The program’s principal goal is to allow coaches to say with confidence that each student athlete will be able to fully prepare for their sport and academics, as well as their careers or graduate schools. Zapolski anticipates good things to come if the involvement from coaches and academic faculty continues.
“If there are two willing partners, there are tremendous opportunities for great things to happen,” said Zapolski.

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Faculty mentoring continues development