Aug. 8, 2012
By Seamus Labrum
SEATTLE - Think student-athletes focus on their sport alone all summer? Think again.
Enter LEAP (Learn Experience Achieve Program), a rigorous six-credit course designed to offer incoming freshmen student-athletes at the University of Washington a soft landing into their college careers. From women's basketball to football, a group of about 50 athletes attend the program during summer training in order to prep their minds for college, just as they train their bodies for competition.
LEAP was offered in different forms prior to a modification into its current format in 2005. Presently, incoming Huskies are subjected to a writing-intensive, six-credit course often recommended or required by Washington coaches.
The women's basketball team has been a staple in the LEAP program since its inception, with head coach Kevin McGuff requiring it of his incoming freshman. Katie Collier and Heather Corral, the two newest members of women's basketball team and UW, were no exceptions. The two recently entered their last week of LEAP. Unfortunately, Collier tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during a summer workout recently and is now home recovering, unable to complete the last few days of LEAP.
Corral is now a LEAP graduate and looks forward to life as a full-fledged college freshman come September. After intensive weeks spent taking English 108 and a general studies course, the Vancouver, Wash., native spoke volumes of the program.
"It's helped me not only get adjusted to taking college classes but has also helped me get more familiar with the campus itself," Corral said.
The LEAP program helps student-athletes learn to balance their busy schedules before the hustle and bustle that comes with the official start of fall quarter on September 24.
"Having a class as well as athletics at the same time has taught me good time management," Corral added. "I know the expectations of professors now."
Kim Durand, Associate Athletic Director for Student Development at Washington, said LEAP was recognized as the best overall program in the country among summer bridge programs for incoming freshman.
"Since 2005, women's basketball has always taken part," Durand said. "Meaning that all of their incoming freshmen have taken LEAP."
Durand explained that the program spans four weeks and is a six-hour commitment for student-athletes five days a week. The intensive class requires the students to produce several papers a week.
"It is a writing and critical thinking class taught by English teaching assistants from campus," Durand said. "There are also additional tutors that work one on one with the student-athletes on their writing, critical reasoning and reading comprehension."
The program ultimately prepares athletes for what they will face in a typical class throughout their career at UW. Whatever the student's academic skill level, LEAP can benefit all who take it.
With LEAP behind them, female basketball players and other student-athletes can look forward to bright futures as they pursue their respective degrees at the University of Washington.