By Tom Mauldin - 10/15/2020
My friendship with Tamara ’T’ Statman goes back almost a decade, back to when she was a freshman standout at Horizon High School (Ariz.) and then as Softball Editor for MaxPreps, I selected her as a freshman All-American. All total, she was a MaxPreps All-American four times.
I also picked Statman as a member of Softball West’s “Top 100” high school softball players two years running (2014-2015). Statman followed those years by standing out on and off the field at the University of Arizona. She was a two-time Academic All-American. Today she is working for Cumulus Radio as a board operator and occasional co-host.
In interviewing Statman over the years, it wasn’t her softball ability that drew my attention. It was her character, her articulation and her passions for things in life. And not just softball.
Her motto in which she lives is “Greatness is a way of life.” To say she has been guided by that would be an understatement.
Statman and her family suffer from skin cancer and even though she lives in sun-powered Arizona, when she plays she wears long sleeves and tries to keep as much of her skin covered as possible … even when the temps are a blistering 110-plus degrees.
Statman ran a campaign through high school “T’s Ks for skin cancer.” As a pitcher, she received donations for every strikeout to raise money for skin cancer patients who had difficulty paying for medical care.
I’ve learned to know her as intense and fiercely competitive, but also compassionate and caring. She is also an accomplished swing dancer, a third degree tae kwon doe black belt and drives a golf ball 300 yards.
Statman’s book ‘The Real Deal Student Athlete Success Kit’ is a must-read for anyone who has a goal of playing at the next level, regardless of the sport. Parents will love every chapter.
It’s far more than a “how-to” guide. It’s entertaining, well written and educational. If softball — or college sports — is your passion, Statman’s book is a must read.
Former Team USA coach and many-times national champion coach Mike Candrea wrote the forward for Statman’s book saying, “This young lady did it all and excelled at the highest levels. Her advice in this book is priceless for anyone that is looking to expand their horizons during their college career and know that you can do anything you are willing to have a passion and work extremely hard to achieve your vision in life.”
In her book, Statman touches on all levels of being a college athlete, including preparing for college life, college social life, life after college and and everything ranging from “the grind” to injuries to coach communication to positives and negatives.
Not wanting to play “spoiler” in any of the chapters in ‘The Real Deal Student Athlete Success Kit,’ here are a few “teasers” … sage words from Statman.
“Life is not perfect and neither is being a student athlete. Just remember, your sport does not have to be your whole life. Do not let it define who you are as a person. Your sport is something you do, not who you are.”
“As a student-athlete, your time will be spread thin, but if you use it effectively you will come out a rockstar. Even if you wind up not finishing college as an athlete, it is essential to use your time productively. Take some extra time to network, join clubs, apply to internships. If you do not have some of these extra things on your resume, you will be a hard sell to an employer after college. I ultimately wrote this so you are able to learn from my successes and mistakes in order to better yourself during your time as an athlete and beyond.”
“While working out can be a challenge at times, not being conditioned is the single lamest excuse that you can have when you go to your program. You can run anywhere.”
“Every individual has different ways they like to practice outside of team practice. Some people do extra, others do not. It is all about what you personally need. Sometimes a little extra does not hurt. However, there can be times when you can practice too much. You have to know when you need to stop.”
“It truly takes a village to raise a college athlete into a young man or woman who is ready for the post-college world. Taking care of your body will be by far one of the most important ways that you will be able to survive whatever is thrown at you both mentally and physically. The grind is a very real thing and being able to navigate it effectively will ensure that you will be able to take on multiple years of this type of strain.”
“Transferring or leaving your sport all together is nothing to be ashamed about. There are tons of reasons that athletes transfer schools or separate themselves from their sport. Sometimes athletes may have been misled or were not in the right place for their own personal situation.”
“Some kids will sign for full scholarship, others for partial or just books. Some kids get nothing but academic money or grants they are able to find. There is an array of how money can be allotted. The better grades and test scores you get in high school, the better your chances are at getting a higher academic scholarship. It makes you more valuable because then coaches are able to cut scholarships into pieces since you are able to receive academic scholarship money from the school.”
“College is the best time to be able to try activities you have never tried before. You are not being policed by your parents or anyone during your free time. In your free time you are truly free to do whatever you like. If this means joining a painting club, then so be it. I am such a huge proponent of using the four/five years of undergraduate to go outside of your box because you will never be in a space like this again. You are able to dabble in many things and if you simply do not like what you have tried, you do not have to do it again. Simple as that.”
“While playing sports is an important part of your college, finding something that you like outside of your sport is important because you will not be an athlete forever.”
“Eventually, your career is going to end, and you may need another outlet to express yourself.”
“Whether you like it or not, you will have to go to class. Your governing body and your college will have GPA requirements. Essentially, if you do not have a high enough GPA, you will not play. With all of the resources that the schools will give you, at least in the PAC12/SEC and other Power 5 conferences that I have seen, you will have to deliberately try to not study and waste time in study hall to not get the minimum GPA. Usually the culprit for not getting decent enough grades is simply not attending classes or studying material.”
“You are a student first regardless of what sport you play.”
“The label of student-athlete is some people’s end all be all. After your playing career is over, that identity will still be there for the rest of your life, but it will likely not be as important as it once was. You have learned great skills from being a student-athlete, like teamwork, communication, and time management to name a few. Take these skills and develop them over the course of college to come out the best you can be.”
Those are just a few of excerpts from the book. It is full of what to expect and a necessary “be aware” of what lies ahead. It is very useful experience.
In his praise of the book, Candrea said. “This book will give you a tremendous guide on how to utilize your college experience to acquire the skills to pave your road to success. She had a vision to take advantage of every opportunity to become well rounded in all aspects of her college career.”
If being a college athlete is a goal or in your future, the The Real Deal Student Athlete Success Kit is a must. Get two copies — one for your ballbag, the other for your school bag.
It is appropriately titled.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Real Deal Student Athlete Success Kit is available on Amazon in paperback ($9.95) and Kindle ($5.95).