Taking chances

Published 2:39 am Wednesday, June 21, 2006

By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
Athletes with skills but a shaky background often make for hard decisions for a college coach to make.
Can an athlete maintain good enough grades to stay eligible? Is an athlete who has had off-the-field problems worth a risk? Should a coach take a chance on an athlete who once had promising skills only to be derailed by injury?
Jefferson Davis Community College baseball coach Darrell Blevins, basketball coach Allen Gainer and softball and volleyball coach Misti Nims all agree the first priority is grades.
One incentive tool Blevins uses as a reminder is the Academic Club he posts on his bulletin board in the JDCC clubhouse. One is a 4.0 club for players with a perfect grade point average for the preceding semester. The other is for players with a GPA of 3.0 and higher.
Gainer admits academics have sometimes been a problem for some of his players.
Nims takes a hard look at a prospective recruit's academic background.
The JDCC coaching trio also said they tend to shy away from athletes who have had off-the-field problems.
Blevins said he uses a case-by-case approach.
Gainer said sometimes individuals learn from their mistakes.
Nims said sometimes players with questionable behavior background slip into the school's athletic program.
Signing injured athletes is also risky. Blevins said there are a couple of factors he considers.
Another injury situation is when a player gets hurt after he/she signs.
Nims said softball is easier to absorb that kind of player than volleyball.