LUBBOCK, Texas — Any first year with a new coaching staff can spur many changes for a student-athlete. From new plays to a new weight training program, it can be a daunting task to learn a new formula for success.
For four members of the Texas Tech football team, this summer brought about an entirely different concept of the word “new.” One far, far away from Jones AT&T Stadium.
A total of 5,141 miles to be exact.
Jaylon Hutchings, Brayden Stringer, Quentin Yontz and Patrick Curley boarded a flight in Dallas, along with academic advisor Abby DeHaas and graduate assistant Megan Metz, to journey to the Texas Tech University Center in Sevilla, Spain.
In Sevilla, they spent a “Maymester” broadening their horizons while taking Social Issues in Sport in Spain, taught by Dr. Christopher McLeod of the Texas Tech Department of Kinesiology & Sport Management.
The trip checked off many “firsts,” not only for the four men themselves, but also for Texas Tech Athletics as a whole. For each of the four football players, it marked the first time they had traveled overseas. Hutchings, a redshirt freshman defensive lineman from Forney, Texas, made memories he will never forget.
Curley, a redshirt freshman linebacker from Wagoner, certainly noticed that the program gave him a rare opportunity for personal growth that many student-athletes don’t have the opportunity to take.
“Study abroad was a once in a lifetime opportunity that allowed me to escape my comfort zone and grow as a person.” Curley said. “It was a very valuable experience to surround myself in an entirely different culture and to see a completely different way of life. I would strongly recommend studying abroad to any other student.”
McLeod’s class covered the relationships between sport and culture, politics, nationalism, gender, race, class and subculture in Spain. Covering the material in a classroom is one thing, but attending a bullfight and witnessing the culture first-hand provides an entirely different perspective.
The class consisted of seven total students and visited several different cities such as Cadiz, Toledo, Segovia and Madrid. Stringer, a junior linebacker from Cypress, Texas, felt the course helped them connect the material to real life.
“I learned a lot about the sports issues within Spain and their society through the sports management program,” Stringer said. “I was also able to learn a lot about the culture and social norms within the cities that we stayed in.”
Aside from the coursework and the incredible sights of Spain, McLeod, who is originally from New Zealand, said he sensed another positive to the study abroad trip for the four student-athletes.
Meanwhile, for Texas Tech Athletics, it marked the first time offering a study abroad opportunity for its student-athletes.
DeHaas, who works specifically with defensive football players at the Marsha Sharp Center for Student-Athletes and studied abroad herself as an undergrad, received approval for the trip last November after working with the Sport Management Department and advertising the opportunity to every sport through the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
She plans to expand the program in 2020 with hopes of adding Summer I and Summer II options that can realistically accommodate even the busiest of summer calendars.