Book by Dave Ellis, Doug Toft (Ed.)
Review by Kristan Venegas
Assistant Professor
Niesha Whitman
Graduate Assistant
University of Nevada, Reno

Becoming a master student athlete is nothing if not ambitious. Using a strategy of inclusiveness, the text offers dozens of techniques to inspire college student athletes towards maintaining academic and athletic success. Strategies are based in research and practice, and are fine-tuned to the unique needs of student athletes. The text is based on previous editions of Becoming a master student by Dave Ellis and includes the insights of contributing editor Doug Toft. This particular version of the text is organized into 12 interactive workbook-like chapters. In this review, we consider the text from the perspectives of a former student athlete, a faculty advisor, and former full-time academic advisor. These perspectives are especially meaningful because the book is intended for primary use by these audiences.

Based on prior experience as a student-athlete, one author recommends Becoming a master student athlete as a valuable resource for student athletes making the transition from high school to college. Because the text includes a number of activities, it requires time and effort on the student athlete’s part in order to benefit from readings and reflections.  The book encourages the reader to explore the text and then go directly to the chapters of most interest. For example, the discovery and intentional journal entry system highlighted in the introduction appears at the end of each chapter. This method gives the student athlete the opportunity to solve problems while reflecting on the emotions or feelings and allows the student athlete the opportunity to integrate strategies specific to their learning style while providing reflective tools for future use.  

Another important consideration for this text is its use as an advisement and instructional tool. Advisors and instructors will find a wealth of strategies that can enable any student, but especially student athletes, refine personal and academic goals. Exercises such as the “discovery wheel” and “learning style inventory” can be used for more informed advising or as a means for beginning purposeful relationships with new advisees. When thinking about this text as a primary guide for teaching college transition courses, an advisor/instructor should purposefully select the types of activities and discussions which might be most useful to their particular student population and the length of the course. Meaningfully incorporating all of the ideas provided in this text would prove to be quite a challenge whether working within a quarter or semester teaching time frame.

Initial and contributing authors should be applauded for compiling so many useful college success strategies into one volume. However, new users may feel overwhelmed during their initial interactions with the text; they should plan to revisit the work so they do not miss the many important suggestions for inspiring the creation of a “master student” mentality.

Becoming a master student athlete. (2006). Book by Dave Ellis, Doug Toft (Ed.). Review by Kristan Venegas & Niesha Whitman. New York: Houghton Mifflin. 340 pp., ISBN: # 0-618-49323-9
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