N4A Announces Student-Athletes of the Month for February 2017|
Feb. 15, 2017
As student-athlete development professionals who work with many students from all walks of life on a day-to-day basis, often times we encounter extraordinary stories of individuals overcoming extreme adversities. Although the odds may be stacked against them, these individuals have a drive deep inside them to succeed in the face of overwhelming challenges. It is working with these outstanding young people that makes the job of a student-athlete development professional so rewarding.
In an effort to recognize and celebrate the achievements and accomplishments of these individuals, N4A will highlight one or more student-athletes each month for their determination to achieve success regardless of personal, academic and emotional challenges.
For February, N4A is honored to recognize Jay Guillermo (Clemson University) and Frank Gonzalez (Barry University).
Guillermo was your typical student-athlete – he was committed to his studies and gave his all on the gridiron. However, after struggling for a while physically and mentally causing him to miss class and workouts, Guillermo decided it was time he visit with team trainers and doctors to discuss possible remedies for the way he was feeling. After further evaluation, trainers and doctors advised that Guillermo see a psychologist. Even with this assistance, he found himself continuing to struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts. Knowing that this was not something he could handle on his own, Guillermo took a medical leave from Clemson University to focus on his mental health. During this time away, he sought the help of doctors and shifted his primary focus to getting better. With no outside pressure, he was able to get into a steady routine and things started to improve. After four months away from school and football, and with the encouragement from family, friends, and his therapist, Guillermo decided he was ready to return to Clemson. Although nervous about the reception he would get upon his return, he couldn’t have been welcomed with more open arms. Now understanding that depression is something he will continue to battle on an ongoing basis, Guillermo continues to make strides to living a happier and healthier life. He returned to the field this past fall better than ever, being named Second Team All-ACC, and was on the academic honor roll for the first time in his career. Guillermo will graduate this fall with a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Education, and hopes his story will be one that inspires others struggling with depression.
Since he was a young child, baseball was a significant part of Gonzalez’s life. With dreams of playing ball in college near his hometown since he first picked up a bat, he was thrilled to receive an offer from Barry University and began preseason with high hopes of competing as a freshman. It was then that Gonzalez began to encounter adversity. A few weeks into his collegiate career, Gonzalez suffered an injury to his hand that required surgery and kept him from playing for six weeks. Although devastating, he was hopeful that this hurdle would be his one and only. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case as he tore his ACL during the first appearance of his freshman season, which would require surgery and keep him out for the year. Gonzalez worked hard to recover with a goal of playing the following Spring, but once again, he encountered disappointment when he re-tore the ACL in practice, requiring another reconstructive surgery. Despite struggling with some recurring pain, Gonzalez was finally able to play the spring of his junior season and started in 21 games. Through all of these hardships, he maintained his position on the Dean’s List for six out of seven semesters as a Computer Science major and never lost sight of his goals. Gonzalez was named as the 2015 Comeback Player of the Year, a team captain, and a member of the Capital One Academic All-District First Team.
About N4A: N4A, which has been in existence since 1975, is a diverse educational service and professional non-profit organization. Membership of N4A includes academic support and student services personnel who are committed to enhancing opportunities for academic, athletics and personal success for student-athletes. For more information on N4A, visit www.nfoura.org. N4A is administered by NACDA, now in its 52nd year, administers 17 professional associations, including seven for the separate business units that report directly to the athletics directors. For more information on NACDA, visit www.nacda.com.