Garner Cleveland Record

Garner author takes on hot topic

Dr. Shaun Tyrance, a former Garner Senior High quarterback, got the idea of writing a book about how to successfully navigate the first year of college life while he was an academic advisor for N.C. State football players.

“We would have freshman orientation for incoming freshmen student athletes and we didn’t have a textbook,” Tyrance recalled this week. “I knew from my professional and personal experience what it is like to be a freshman student-athlete. I saw the value in having a book that could be used as a guide.”

So Tyrance and Dr. Nyaka NiiLampti ,a professor at Queens University of Charlotte, wrote Winning at the College Level, Thriving as a First-year Student-Athlete.

Eddie Gray, Tyrance’s basketball coach at Garner Senior in 1992 through 1996, said he isn’t surprised Tyrance has written a book.

“He was a thoughtful young man,” Gray said. “He liked to examine things.”

The book covers everything from adjusting to a new level of competition in sports and in academics to how to develop a healthful lifestyle.

“It is a hard enough transition from high school to college without athletic expectations,” Tyrance said. “In addition to living on your own and setting your own boundaries, student-athletes are dealing with athletic expectations as well.”

Athletes have the benefit of some support staff that is not available to all students, but athletes can have more pressure and more expectations at a time when they may already be experiencing unhealthy levels of stress.

A high school star may be challenged by playing against older and more mature players. Athletes who were able to cruise through high school academically may suddenly face huge academic challenges.

And as Tyrance knows first-hand, college athletics is much more of a business than high school sports.

He was devastated when one college withdrew its football scholarship offer to him days after he injured his knee during his senior year. Luckily for him, Davidson College jumped with an offer.

Tyrance was held out of competition at Davidson for a year, but he lettered at quarterback for the next four seasons.

“I was really lucky I could throw a football,” said Tyrance, who was a starting quarterback for Coach Hal Stewart. “There was no way I could have gone to Davidson unless it was on a scholarship.”

But being on scholarship brings special responsibilities.

Tyrance, who has worked with athletes at several different colleges and with professional players and teams, recalled asking a college coach if a player could take a particular class that would require the player to be a little late for practice one day a week.

“The coach said it was fine for the player to take the course, but that the player would be dropped to the bottom of the depth chart if he did,” Tyrance said. “His chances of playing would be dramatically reduced.”

Tyrance encourages athletes to use all the academic resources at the school, to build communication with coaches, to practice good time management and to remember the athlete needs to take responsibility for himself.

He encourages students to recognize their learning style, to understand their values and to assess their athletic identities. The book has worksheets for each.

The book is used by some colleges, but Tyrance hopes to get it into the hands of more high school athletes to help prepare for college competition.

“Writing the book was a balancing act,” he said. “I am used to writing scholarly papers and citing all the sources. But this book needed to be written so that it would be readable for the average high school athlete or college freshman.”

Ted White, the associate athletic director for academic services at the University of Georgia, is impressed.

“Winning at the College Level reads like a clearly defined map indentifying every challenge and opportunity first-year student-athletes will encounter along their journey,” White writes in the forward.”

White writes that he wished that he had access to the book which he was a student.

Tyrance has a second book coming out this spring that picks up after the first year of college.

“That first year often sets the tone for the college experience, but it needs to be built upon,” he said.

Tim Stevens:

Get your copy

The book can purchased from Hero House Publishing for $39.99 at Buyers may also email the author at