Academics come first for Picayune’s basketball team

Published 3:53 pm Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Every morning Head Coach Eric Vianney arrives at Picayune Memorial High School before 7 a.m. and sets up the basketball team’s film room with tables and chairs.

However, there won’t be any clips to watch.

Instead, Vianney has his athletes come to a study hall where the focus is on academics, not athletics.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Vianney has been hosting the study hall for three years, and says it’s important that his athletes understand the value of their education.

“For our kids, we understand that they’re student athletes; they’re students first and athletes second,” Vianney said.

“They come hand in hand.”

It’s a tool the coaches use to reinforce the fact that the players need to do well in class.

There are certain requirements of student athletes when it comes to academics, and Vianney says his players need to understand the consequences of not making the grade.

“I know all of them want to play basketball,” Vianney said. “But the reality is if you can’t handle your books you can’t play basketball.”

Players are required to attend the study hall if they have a grade below a 70, and freshmen are required to attend for the entirety of their first semester as they adjust to high school.

Over the years, Vianney has seen how academics can affect athletic performance, and vice versa.

He wants his players to do well in class and on the court.

“For us we always feel like if a kid is doing well in the classroom, basketball just comes naturally,” Vianney said.

The study hall also helps the players learn how to be better students, and understand the benefits of having an education.

Vianney uses himself and other coaches as examples of how hard work in the classroom pays off.

“The reason we are able to be here today is because we went to school,” Vianney said.

“We want them to have the same opportunity and do better.”

Vianney said that having good grades also positively affects each athlete’s mental state.

When the players are doing well academically it shows in the way they practice and play.

“If you have a good grade you come to practice and feel good about yourself,” Vianney said.

The payoff might not be immediate, but over time the athletes learn how beneficial hard work can be.

“If you have a good process you’re going to have a good result, if you have a bad process you’ll have a bad result,” Vianney said.

“We want our kids to have focus and do the right thing, do what they’re supposed to do.”

Vianney said the responsibility to check grades and make sure the students are doing what needs to be done also falls on the parents.

“The parents have to be involved,” Vianney said.

“They need our help and supervision. You have to follow through.”

Vianney said that if he didn’t do everything in his power to help his players then he wouldn’t be doing his job as a coach and teacher.

“That would be a disservice to those kids,” Vianney said.

“As coaches we can’t do everything, but we do the best we can.”