By Kaitlan Parker '17
Bridgewater College's Faculty Athletic Liaison mentoring program is designed to enhance the integration of academics and athletics. The Faculty Athletic Liaison (FAL) serves as an academic mentor to the student-athlete within the athletic arena, and will be able to experience and understand the balance required by the student-athlete to achieve success in both their academic and athletic endeavors. Bridgewatereagles.com will be featuring its FALs throughout the coming year.
BRIDGEWATER, Va. - Professor of business administration Ronald Kline started his work with the football team before he assumed the position of faculty athletic liaison. Professor Kline has always worked with head football coach Michael Clark in any way he can, to help meet the needs of the football team here at Bridgewater. Five years ago Coach Clark pointed out to Professor Kline that that there was a liaison position and that he should begin to identify with this role.
As a faculty athletic liaison Professor Kline has found his primary role to be making himself available to recruits and their families when they are visiting the college. He answers questions for them relating to academics here at the college. He explains to them how being an athlete will fit in with also being a student here. "What it really comes down to is what assurances I can provide to parents and prospective athletes that when they leave here they are going to leave with more than four years of football," he said.
In addition, Professor Kline also helps current student athletes if they need academic help. "I make myself available to Coach [Clark] if he has a student having a problem in a class or they are just having trouble balancing their athletic and academic demands," he said. He works with Bridgewater's director of academic support, Dr. Chip Studwell, to arrange counseling or academic coaches when necessary. Difficulty balancing activities in college is not something that just student athletes struggle with however.
Professor Kline has found that a lot of freshmen, not only athletes, struggle with planning. He tries to explain to all of his students the importance of that skill. "Whether athletes or not, what we find freshmen lack most is planning," he said. He has discovered this from his own observations but also from a survey he takes in all of his senior classes. "I do a little mini-survey in all of my senior classes and the survey has one question, 'If you could tell freshmen one thing that you would have liked to have done better what would it be?' 50-60% of the time it is planning."
Professor Kline focuses on the long term academic planning with his students but finds that it trickles down into other aspects of planning in their lives. "If they plan each semester, then each week they learn the value of planning. Then they will begin to plan daily and they will hopefully also plan other parts of their life, such as their social life," he said.
As for the future of the faculty athletic liaison position, Professor Kline would like to see the role expand. One aspect of that is making sure athletes have somewhere to go for holidays and other breaks that they have to spend at the college.
Another way that he would like to expand the role is by creating a formalized assistance program. This would consist of two meetings a month that would be voluntary to the football players. During these meetings players would be able to ask Professor Kline questions. This would be helpful to both athletes and Professor Kline because he would be able to answer one question, one time for ten students as opposed to ten times for ten students. He believes that this is just another way that he can help the students to achieve success. He explained, "My overall goal for them would be for them to walk away from Bridgewater with the strongest academics that they can achieve while they are here and while they are playing football."
Beyond Professor Kline's role as a faculty athletic liaison, he is a professor in the business department. As a professor he is always trying to find new ways to bring real life examples into the classroom. "I try to bring as many examples to the classroom as I can so that the students recognize that it's not about learning what is in chapter five, but learning what is in chapter five and applying it to the workplace." He feels that it is important to connect what students are learning to what will be demanded of them after they graduate and join the workforce.
Outside of Bridgewater College Professor Kline has various hobbies and interests. He is most passionate though about his cars. Throughout his life Professor Kline has owned well over 200 hobby cars. He started collecting and restoring cars at age 15. He has been restoring cars ever since then and enjoys the process. In addition, he is a fan of collegiate sports here at Bridgewater but not an avid follower of professional sports. His concern with professional and collegiate sports is really with how he can bring related analogies into the classroom.
Beyond Athletics with Faculty Athletic Liaison Professor Kline
By Kaitlan Parker '17