Fifth-year student-athletes reflect on why they used their extra year of eligibility

Kosei Ogata

Some Augustana students have chosen to be a fifth-year student-athlete to keep continuing their own athletic career. Being a fifth-year student-athlete means remaining at school for one additional year to use all years of eligibility. 

Because of COVID-19, all student-athletes received an extra year of eligibility and an option to stay for a fifth-year. According to senior Brett Benedetti on the baseball team, COVID-19 was one of the causes for him deciding to be a fifth-year student-athlete next year. 

“I would say that I feel like it [COVID-19] kind of messed up my whole college experience,” Benedetti said. “COVID-19 took a whole season away from me, and I just kind of wanted to get as much out of my baseball career.”

Chase Maifield has chosen to be a fifth- year student-athlete because he did not want to regret the way his baseball career ended.

“I just really felt like I would regret not taking advantage of that in the future,” Maifield said. “I really didn’t want to regret not playing the sport that I’ve been playing since I was super little. I was lucky enough to be able to move some classes around and make it possible.”

Joshua Chamberlain, current fifth-year, said this year has been a fun time and he is satisfied with his fifth-year socially and academically. 

“My fifth-year has been a lot of fun being able to continue playing baseball and spending time with my teammates,” Chamberlain said. “The school was very helpful in making sure I was able to finish my degree while also taking advantage of my last year of athletic eligibility.” 

Maifield thinks that his teammates choosing to be fifth-year student-athletes also helped him decide to be a fifth-year student-athlete and to keep playing baseball.

“Definitely they [his teammates] helped my decision. I mean we have five guys coming back as fifth-years,” Maifield said. “And I have been best friends with them since we came here. So when I found out they were coming back, it just made my decision so much easier.” 

Benedetti said he feels the same way, but he also thinks even if his friends had not chosen to come back as fifth-years, he would still come back and play baseball. He said he is really satisfied with his decision and does not regret it.

“I mean having some other teammates definitely made it easier to make the decision, but I think honestly if I was the only year coming back, I would come back here to keep playing baseball,” Benedetti said. “It’s been a really rewarding experience. I love the friendships I’ve made. I love being a part of the team. And I’m really satisfied so far.”

Maifield tells us how he feels about becoming a fifth-year student-athlete socially. He thinks taking less classes due to being a fifth-year athlete that he might be slightly disconnected from the campus community next year.

“If we wanted to come back, I was not allowed to finish my major, so I saved those two classes and I’m taking them both in the spring. So for the fall and J-term, I’ll be taking no classes and just be working and doing all that stuff,” Maifield said. “So I guess it’ll be tough to feel connected. But once we get into spring season and baseball season and I’ll be taking some classes, I’ll feel reconnected.”

Benedetti tells other students who are thinking about being a fifth-year student-athlete how they should make a decision.

“I think that all depends on how much you love it. Because college sports are definitely a grind,” Benedetti said. “It’s really time-consuming. But if you love it and if you think you can do it for an extra year, then you definitely should. I’m really excited about it.”