How OSU athletes START their college careers in the BEST way possible

A.J Marotte, Talia von Oelhoffen and Greta Kampschroeder (left to right) pose during an OSU Women’s Basketball practice. These three teammates are also roommates looking forward to returning to in person classes and games.

Thomas Salgado de Almeida Leme, Sports Contributor

Most incoming Oregon State University freshmen spend a couple days of the summer participating in OSU’s START program. 

Student-athletes also participate in START, but due to the increased responsibilities of student-athletes, they also participate in an additional program: BEST. 

“There are a number of bridge programs at OSU, and each one serves a population of students,” said Clint Edwards, a learning services specialist and BEST coordinator for Oregon State athletics via email. “The TRIO bridge focuses on first-generation students. The CAMP [College Assistance Migrant Program] bridge focuses on students from migrant farming families. Naturally there are more. BEST focuses on student athletes.”

Much like START, these bridge programs are meant to help Oregon State students of different groups to adapt to their new life at the university, except with an extra focus on the special needs of their specific population. 

For example, most students at Oregon State do not need to worry about bonding with others to create team chemistry to help their on-court performances. 

For athletes, though, that is a serious concern. Thus, one of the many parts of the BEST program are group team building activities meant to bring strangers that will become teammates for the next four years or so, closer together. 

Additional chemistry-making occurs through players rooming with each other during the BEST program. 

This is the case for the three freshmen on the Beavers women’s basketball team: highly rated guards AJ Marotte, Talia von Oelhoffen, and Greta Kampschroeder who have been rooming together since June 20, the day before the BEST program kicked off.

“Living with Talia and AJ has for sure made the transition a lot easier than I thought it was going to be,” Kampschroeder said over email. “We all get along super well, and I feel like I’ve known them longer than I have. I’ve talked to athletes who go to other schools, and it’s not always that way when getting to know your teammates or coaches. I feel lucky I landed somewhere with people I get along with, can trust and will push me both on and off the court.”

This experience has been especially useful for von Oelhoffen, who had actually graduated early from high school and joined the Beaver women’s basketball program partially through their 2020-2021 season. She was thus a part of the team but hadn’t had an opportunity to really get ingrained into the team, which is exactly the experience that BEST hopes to provide for athletes. 

“YES!” von Oelhoffen said over email after being asked whether or not living with teammates had helped her adapt to Oregon State. “After living in Corvallis on my own for almost five months, I can confidently say that it is much easier living [here] when you have roommates. I love experiencing Oregon State alongside Greta and AJ and having each other if we ever need anything. I love getting to know them, and we have been having so much fun so far this summer!”

Thus, just like how non-athletes often look to make new friends at START to kick off their college careers, athletes bond with their future teammates at BEST. But that is just one part of the BEST program. 

In addition to team building, athletes also participate in a four-week long, three credit online summer class: ALS 190. ALS stands for Academic Learning Services, and the class provides student-athletes with academic success tips, socio-cultural awareness and other tips for transitioning into college life. 

BEST also provides student-athletes with knowledge on National Collegiate Athletic Association guidelines and such that they will need to know about as student-athletes, study hall groups that lead to further friendships and study skills, assessments to help maximize each student’s academic support programs, campus familiarity activities and more. 

Finally, student-athletes do also participate in the START program, which is being held remotely once again this year. 

“We did do the START orientation,” Kampschroeder said. “It was very welcoming and helped us get a good feel of OSU and what it’s like to be a Beaver even though we did it through Zoom. For me, it made Corvallis already feel a little like home away from home. Knowing there are people inside as well as outside of the basketball program that are here to guide me and have my back is very reassuring.”

Of course, most of these activities are academic and social. Student-athletes need to fulfill the second part of their title as well. 

As athletes, many also practice throughout the BEST program. This is important to give them a taste of what their college life will be like. 

“I think the BEST program has given us a feel of what it’s really like to be a student-athlete at the collegiate level,” Kampschroeder said. “There are days where we’ll go right from class to a workout or vice versa. It’s given me an idea of how I will have to manage my time and prepare for a busy schedule.”

Thus, the START and BEST programs combine to get freshmen student-athletes ready to fulfill all the roles they have in college. They go through START and then learn study skills at BEST to become good students, they create team chemistry and practice together during their time at BEST to be better athletes and they just have fun and make friends like all college students try to do.

“The BEST program has been super fun and informative so far! It has really changed my experience at Oregon State because I am finally able to meet and interact with people, which is something I did not get to do a lot of in winter and spring,” von Oelhoffen said. “I have already made friends that I know I am going to remain close with in my four years here. The program has also provided us with useful resources and skills that we can apply to the remainder of our careers as student-athletes here at Oregon State. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to be a part of the BEST program!”

Was this article helpful?