Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Agatha Adams has been working at Oklahoma State University for 25 years. There have been a lot of changes during that time, but one thing has stayed the same - her devotion to helping students.
Adams received her undergraduate degree from Langston University in secondary education. She said that she decided she wanted to be a teacher because of all the great teachers she had on her way to earning that degree.
After teaching for five years in her hometown of Okmulgee, Okla., she decided to pursue a master's degree at Oklahoma State.
"While working on my Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction and being a graduate teaching assistant, I also started working with a few athletes," Adams said. "I earned my master's degree and then moved over to the Office of Freshman Programs and Services in 1985, which is now called University Academic Services. I had a large number of athletes as my advisees."
Following her time in the University of Academic Services office, Adams was told about a job opening up in the athletic academic services department. She applied and got the job. She was hired as the Assistant Director of Academic Services for Student-Athletes in July of 1989 and has been there ever since.
"I have worked with all of our sports," Adams said. "When I first started I worked with football, men's and women's basketball, softball, men's and women's track, women's tennis and women's golf. I was also overseeing orientation for all new students so I worked with all of our new students. I presently work with soccer, women's tennis, women's basketball and equestrian."
Although Adams works behind the scenes, she still has a schedule to adhere to, just like the student-athletes.
"Each day is so different," Adams said. "I usually will have about four to five appointments in the morning with students and about three to four in the afternoon. It is usually slow after 3 p.m. so that is when I get caught up on paper work. Some days I will have meetings with my coaches and I try to make contact with them at least two times a week."
Assistant women's soccer coach Karen Hancock has been working with Adams since the beginning of the soccer program at OSU.
"I have been working with her for 15 years and she has been instrumental in our team performing as well as they have in the classroom," Hancock said. "We started the soccer program in 1996 and with any start-up program there are growing pains, but we got our first team academic award in 2002.
"We have gotten that same award every year since then, so we are going on nine years. A big part of that are the academic services and more specifically Agatha's help with the sport of soccer."
Adams' many responsibilities means most days are hectic.
"The most stressful thing is trying to work out the best schedule and then after I think it is done, having to rework it so it is less stressed," Adams said.
Not only does Adams keep up with the student-athletess and how they are doing in the classroom, she also tries to stay up-to-date on their athletic performance as well.
"I try to support my teams by attending all home games. I also travel with the women's basketball and soccer teams for the Big 12 tournaments and NCAAs," Adams said.
Although things can get stressful, Adams says that the stress is overshadowed by all the rewarding moments she shares with the student-athletes.
"I really enjoy working with students," Adams said. "At the beginning of each fall it is so refreshing to meet our new students and to assist them in adjusting to their new family. Seeing students progress and achieve their goals is so rewarding.
"I still will hear from players that graduated from here over 15 years ago. I will get an e-mail or a phone call from them saying they just want to check in and see how things are going and to give me an update on what is going on in their lives."
Along with meeting with student-athletes throughout her day, she also tries to meet with the coaches during the week as well.
"We touch base at least two times a week about various things," Hancock said. "Sometimes it is just real general, or it could be about a topic dealing with the group and sometimes it is about specific individuals or areas of concerns that need to be addressed."
Hancock has witnessed first hand Adams' organization and attention to detail.
"The communication line is very open there and we take academics very seriously within our sport," Hancock said. "If a player is ever not taking care of business on the academic side of things, I want to hear about it immediately and Agatha is excellent about notifying us on what is going on with that student. She is really good about making sure that the student-athletes in our program have every chance to succeed."
Even though Adams is designated as an academic contact for her student-athletes, she also helps them with advice on school and tries to help them in whatever they need.
"I have been here for awhile now and historically there have been some people that would say that Agatha was a huge part of their college experience and an integral part of them having success academically at OSU and even beyond the classroom," Hancock said.
Adams says there are many rewarding aspects of her job, but her favorite part about working with student-athletes is helping them achieve their goals.
"Seeing a student reach his or her goals even when they have to stop and re-evaluate what it is that they really want and then seeing them graduate after that is the most rewarding thing about this job," she said.