The Life of a Half-lete

Preston Palm watches as a visiting black belt demonstrates a BJJ move on Noah Holden.

Paul Tointigh, Managing Editor

College athletics can be fun, and they can be a lot of work. Athletes push their minds and bodies to the limit throughout the year and compete to win awards and trophies. Athletes seem to have a full-time job in-season: their sport.

However, there are those at USAO who work “part-time” in the athletics department, and not just in a literal sense.  A portion of the student body enjoys the rigor of sports and physical competition, yet they do not have a jersey or a scholarship for sports.

These students are called the “half-letes,” or “half athletes,” and they can be found all over campus, doing all sorts of physical activities. An advantage about being a half-lete is the diverse amount of physical activities that one can partake in at USAO.

One activity that the half-letes can participate in is Ultimate Frisbee. Ultimate Frisbee is a sport similar to football and is played in the Oval every Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. Ultimate Frisbee is played by students, faculty, and even alumni and their friends.

Emily Loughridge, a junior Communication major, loves the sport for the social aspect, as well as the physical.

“I enjoy frisbee the most because of the social aspect, because you can interact with your professors in a way you can’t in the classroom,” Loughridge said.

Gary Jackson, a sophomore Communication major, plays Ultimate Frisbee because of the impact that it makes on him. Jackson said he plays Ultimate Frisbee in order to stay active and make friends. He also said that it gives him a sense of competition and an outlet from the classroom.

“Just have fun. If you’re not the best person out there, that’s okay, you don’t have to be,” Jackson said. “Just play to your strengths, play to the best of your ability, and just have a good time.”

Another physical activity some of the student body partakes in is Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ). Being a mixed-martial art sport, BJJ is a rigorous sport with not only physical lessons, but mental and emotional lessons as well.

BJJ challenges Noah Holden, a senior Vocal Music Education major, both physically and mentally. Holden, who has been participating in BJJ for nearly three months, says he has seen changes in both his body and his mind.

“It has helped me with my discipline. The way I act as a person has changed,” Holden said. “You can see the physical progress right away because it’s very demanding. Our coach loves to push us, and he instills endurance into us.”

Preston Palm, a sophomore Communication major, knows BJJ has lessons not only on the rolling mat, but outside of the gym as well.

“It teaches a lot of values outside of the gym like getting through adversity, and it’s a really good way to mature,” Palm said. “The gym really brings a great team environment. At the gym, everyone wants everyone to succeed.”

Joe Mitchell, a senior History major, gave his advice for beginners when starting BJJ. Mitchell encourages beginners to not become frustrated with getting beat, as that is part of the learning experience.

“It’s a humbling experience. Leave your pride at the door,” Mitchell said.  “Be patient. You’re going to lose a lot at the beginning, but come into the gym ready to learn.”

Another activity that USAO students do is training for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. Phoebe Smith, a junior Elementary Education major, is training for the marathon along with Jensen Link, a senior History major, and Hope Marquardt, a senior Deaf Education major. The trio will run in the Marathon Sunday, April 30th.

“Consistency is key,” Smith said in regard to training for the marathon. “It’s not going to feel comfortable but if you keep it up, your body will get used to it, and just enjoy it. It won’t be worth it if you don’t enjoy it.”

Running a marathon is a mental race just as much as a physical one. Link knows that running has presented him with mental challenges, but he pushes through no matter what.

“A challenge that I have gotten is whenever you think about how much you’ve run,” Link said. “It’s mentally tough and you have to push through it. I didn’t understand the mental challenge when I started running.”

Link also said that running has helped him mentally and in the classroom with homework. It is also a good form of meditation as running in nature helps the mind, according to Link.

“I think that there’s no harm in trying a marathon and seeing if it’s up your alley, but I would recommend trying smaller things like 5K’s before trying a marathon,” Link said, in giving tips for beginner runners.

Trying out the various sports can be intimidating for someone who has never picked up a ball before or is unfamiliar with the sport.

“Just getting that physical activity does something for your brain, because your body naturally desires that activity, and so many people don’t do that,” said Clay Edwards, a freshman Music Education major.

Participating in these sports can be a great outlet for students as it gives them a place to unwind from the stress of school, get their bodies moving, and compete. Whether it’s rolling on a mat, running down a street, or throwing a frisbee getting outside of your comfort zone, being active, and making connections is a unique experience for everyone involved.


Paul Tointigh is a third-year Communication major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.