Juniors define scholar-athlete, win essay contest

tstevens@newsobserver.comMay 19, 2014 

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    Patrick Butler gave The News & Observer permission to print his essay on being a scholar-athlete:

    Scholar-athletes see the big picture

    A scholar-athlete is an individual who is both mentally strong and physically active. This is the definition you might find if you look in a dictionary. However, that only just begins to describe the real meaning of the phrase.

    A scholar-athlete is much more than just an ordinary student who plays a sport. They are committed individuals who are able to successfully juggle a rigorous academic schedule with the demands of participating in a school sport. These people learn very early that in order to have the best of both worlds, they must work hard and prioritize. They often have to eliminate some of the activities that their peers engage in, so that they can focus on what means the most to them.

    Academics are always the first priority, but sports are also very important. They enable a scholar-athlete to experience collaborating, strategizing, and succeeding with others on a team. Athletics offer life lessons and knowledge that cannot be obtained from academics alone. Physical activity also gives young adults the exercise and health benefits that they need.

    It is true that scholar-athletes spend most of their available time on school work and sports. Nevertheless, with the proper time-management techniques, they are still able to have a social life. They make time to be with friends, play videogames, or even engage in a hobby. Scholar-athletes know that it is vital to enjoy as many aspects of life as possible. In other words, it’s not just the destination; it’s the journey as well.

    Scholar-athletes are some of the most dedicated and hard-working individuals at the high school level. They don’t seek recognition for their achievements, but rather the satisfaction of both being a part of a team and getting good grades in school. They look at the big picture and understand that what they do in high school will enable them to have even greater success later in life. It is my belief that academics and athletics are both very important in their own ways. However, if you are able to merge the two, it creates a winning combination that cannot be beat... the scholar-athlete!

    – Patrick Butler is a junior at Millbrook High School. He is a three-year letterman in tennis, is ranked No. 1 academically in his class and has a 4.875 overall grade point average on a 4.0 scale with extra credit for advanced courses.

Patrick Butler, a junior at Millbrook High, and Elise Matera, a junior at Chapel Hill High, consider themselves to be scholar-athletes.

Their essays on what a scholar-athlete is won the N.C. High School Athletic Association contest sponsored by the N.C. National Guard. This is the first year the NCHSAA has held the contest, and it received essays from throughout the state.

Butler, who enjoys writing, said it seemed natural to write his paper. He is a three-year varsity tennis letterman and has a 4.875 GPA, tops in the Wildcats’ junior class.

“This is something that I had thought about,” Butler said. “It took me about an hour to write it and a couple of hours, off and on, to edit it and tweak it.”

Matera runs cross country and track at Chapel Hill. In her essay she said, “far from the dumb jock or the unpopular nerd, the scholar-athlete is a striking shade of gray on the spectrum of stereotypes; two seemingly unlikely parts joined together by a hyphen, a determination to success and a love to learn.”

Butler and Matera will receive gift packs that include an 8 GB iPod Nano.

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