Bates has seen tremendous success in the world of athletics. Teams have competed at the national level, state and regional championships have been won, and Bates offers over 30 varsity programs to students. Approximately one third of the student body has been recruited or chose to compete for these teams. These students are busy on and off the field, balancing practice with academics and other club and extracurricular opportunities.
As a student-athlete who participates on the cross-country and track teams year-round, I have never taken a moment to think about why athletics is important to me and the rest of the Bates student body. I am in the midst of my final cross-country season at Bates and I want to make sure the following question gets answered: What does it mean to be a DIII collegiate student-athlete? Fortunately, 2019 Boston sports lawyer of the year, Janet Judge, visited our campus to tackle this question among other relevant issues and topics for NCAA DIII varsity sports teams.
As a student-athlete at Harvard University, Janet Judge appreciated having athletics help to “structure her world.” After graduation, she was offered the job of assistant director of facilities at Harvard. She proceeded to earn the position “Assistant Director of Athletics” the following year. Judge then went to Boston University School of Law and eventually became a litigation partner for the law firm of Holland & Knight in Boston. She is currently an online instructor for the National Association of College and University Attorneys’ Title IX coordinator course.
In addition to all of her career accomplishments and endeavors, Janet Judge spends time traveling to different colleges and universities and speaks about current sports and sexual misconduct issues. Her visit to Bates was sponsored by the Bates Athletics Department and Student Affairs. She visited from Sept. 26-27. and presented to students, captains, the Student-Athlete Advisory committee, and the athletic department staff. Her discussions included important conversations about eligibility, social media, hazing, and leadership.
When speaking about her own athletic and work experiences, Judge made sure to highlight the importance of staying true to yourself and your personal life goals. “You hear it all the time. Do what you love. That is wonderful for everybody to say that but actually figuring out how to do it took me a little bit of time to figure out,” she said. “I was playing out some of the opportunities that were important to me because I believe that is how I got to know the people in my community. It sounds trite but I have an obligation to be paying forward as well and sports is the way you can do it.”
A former captain of Harvard’s soccer, basketball and track and field teams, Judge also spoke about why she values athletics and her identity as a student-athlete. “Athletics was transformative in my life,” she explained. “It taught me about managing my time, about being respectful to others, and about working hard now for a result that might not come until later.”
Judge also discussed the importance of community for student-athletes. “I have had a number of mentors in my life which was incredibly important and the vast majority of them were the people I met through athletics,” she said. “They saw something in me and then pushed me to work harder than I was working at the time. I can trace almost every success to athletics.”
Janet Judge finished her discussions by asking the audience, “What three words do you associate with your identity as a student-athlete?” My thoughts immediately went to “Strong,” “Dedicated,” and “Compassionate.” While I definitely value these characteristics, Janet Judge’s presentation made me realize that I can use the skills I have gained from athletics to work toward career aspirations and leadership opportunities within my community.
Janet Judge left the Bates community with advice that will help me and all students when thinking about the daunting road ahead. “Give it your all. Don’t leave anything behind. Be grateful,” she said. “You are being given tremendous opportunities. Acknowledge that and make the most of it. Also, support each other both in athletics and outside of athletics. I think it is always important for athletes to take a broader view. Finally, talk about a network. You will always be Bates athletes. Own it!”