Byrd, Ealy: More than basketball

(Photo by Xavier Ealy)
There is more than just basketball for freshman Xavier Ealy, a student in the writing/communication program at Maryville College.

Contrary to the popular misconception, there is nothing easy about being an athlete at Mar yville College. Jaumonee Byrd and Xavier Ealy, freshmen basketball players at MC, not only have to make time for the same academic rigor as any other MC student, but also have to invest a lot of time in basketball practice. As a matter of fact, Byrd and Ealy rarely have free time to just hang out with friends or be involved in other groups at MC.

Because of the intense time investment being a basketball player requires, they have to spend most of their free time doing homework in order to stay on top of things. “You don’t really have down time,” Ealy said. “ The time where people hang out and stuff you have to be doing homework because you usually have practice.”

Byrd and Ealy both face discrimination for being athletes. Some other students assume that all that matters to them is basketball and that academics are not important. Students that make these assumptions do not realize how important an athlete’s academic per formance really is at MC, where recruits must have good grades and talent in order to participate in athletic programs. Byrd and Ealy did not just come to MC to play basketball.

Byrd had other options for colleges where he could have played basketball, but he chose MC because of the family-like atmosphere of a smaller campus. Byrd is a ver y social and familyoriented person, and he liked how the Men’s Head Coach Randy Lambert seemed like a father-figure. It was very important to him to choose a school where he would be most comfortable at for four years and he could thrive as a student. Academics have always been really important to Byrd, as well.

He realizes that most college athletes do not continue playing after they graduate, and one day he will be known by the grades he studied for rather than just an athlete. “I had a 3.75 coming here, so it was more than just basketball coming to school,” Byrd said. Ealy discovered MC through a friend, who for merly played on the Scot’s basketball team.

After working out with this friend, the MC basketball player told Lambert about Ealy, who was interested in attending MC because of the good things he had heard about the college. However, Ealy’s high school teachers discouraged his desire to attend MC. They told him they did not think he could handle the academics or earn the grades he needed in order to attend.

(Photo by Jaumonee Byrd)
Basketball player Jaumonee Byrd has chosen to major in environmental science.

This motivated Ealy to work harder academically, so he could be an MC student despite what his teachers thought. Clearly, academics are important to Byrd and Ealy. However, athletic stereotypes do not stop at academics. Some individuals think that athletes only hang out with other athletes, and they are unapproachable by other students. With Byrd and Ealy, that is certainly not the case. Both are ver y social and like to meet new people.

Byrd will not only sit in Pearson’s or Isaac’s with his teammates, but also with anyone he meets. He likes talking to new people, and he does not want them to think they cannot talk to him since he’s an athlete. “Just walk up to me, talk to me,” Byrd said. “If you don’t know yet about me, the easiest way to know someone is to just talk to that person one-on-one.” Ealy agreed.

“I’m not a person that if they come to me and talk to me I’m just gonna look at them crazy,” Ealy said. “I’ll pretty much talk to anybody. It doesn’t matter who they are or who they hang out with. I’m outgoing, and I’ll talk to anybody.” Byrd and Ealy are both hardworking, ambitious students that get along very well in the MC community.

They study as hard as any other student at MC, which is something others should come to appreciate knowing how difficult it is to do so while being an athlete.

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