The success of many collegiate student-athletes can be measured on the playing field. All-America awards, records set and championships won are tangible symbols of a player’s athletic talents and abilities. Similarly, many earn recognition in the classroom, picking up all-conference academic awards and graduating with honors. Still, there are a select few, like Tulane soccer player Emily McArthur, whose accomplishments are much more intangible.
For the past three seasons, McArthur has easily been one of the top student-athletes at Tulane, excelling both on the field and in the classroom. Her named can be found listed in the Green Wave soccer record book as she is among the career leaders in assists. Perhaps even more impressively, she is one of only two players to have seen action in every single Tulane soccer game during the last three years. In the classroom, she has twice earned Conference USA Academic Honor Roll honors and is on course to graduate in May with a degree in Environmental Engineering.
However, the impressive list of accomplishments does not stop there for the senior from Springfield, Va. McArthur was one of 188 Division I student-athletes from across the nation, and the only Tulane student-athlete, to be selected to attend the prestigious NCAA Leadership Conference this spring in Orlando, Fla.
“It was an incredible experience,” McArthur said. “The NCAA flew us out to Orlando and we stayed in an amazing Disney World Resort for four days. There were people representing almost every sport from every division of college athletics. Every morning we met in groups to discuss different topics related to college athletics. Sometimes we would discuss things like NCAA rules and regulations and sometimes we would trade ideas on things like how to get more fans to come out to our games. It was really interesting to see how the ideas of people from other schools could help Tulane.”
Beyond practical knowledge, McArthur also gained a new appreciation for the scope of college athletics.
“I learned a lot about what goes on behind the scenes,” McArthur added. “I think a lot of athletes go to their respective schools and take classes and play their sports, but they don’t realize everything that goes on within the athletic department. I learned there are a lot of people helping us out. One of the things I realized about Tulane specifically, and one of the things that I really respect and cherish now, is the family atmosphere we have here. We are very family-oriented here, which is not something a lot of the bigger schools can say. We are really lucky to have that type of atmosphere at Tulane.”
McArthur can put the experiences she gained at the NCAA Leadership Conference to work almost immediately. After serving as a member for the past three seasons, including her junior year as Vice President, McArthur was voted President of the Tulane Student-Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) for the coming school year. Comprised of a pair of representatives from each sport, SAAB represents the Tulane athletes’ voice within the athletic department and provides student-athletes with an outlet for community outreach.
“Through SAAB, I’ve learned that we have a say in what goes on and in what decisions are made,” McArthur said. “Each sport has the opportunity to talk about what is going on within their sport and they can bring up any problems they might have that we as a collective group can help them solve. We also try to sponsor two major outreach programs each year. Our most successful has been the Shadow A Student-Athlete Day in which local school kids follow a Tulane athlete around for a day whether it is to class or practice or whatever. It started out three years ago with just sixth graders, but now we are up to more than 100 fifth and sixth graders from Lafayette Elementary. It can be hard to get more than 300 student-athletes involved in one outreach program, but we get more and more Tulane athletes to volunteer their time each year.”
In addition to serving on SAAB, McArthur has been elected captain of the soccer team in each of the last two seasons and finds time each summer to serve as a counselor at the Girls First Camp for eight to 12 year-old inner city girls from the New Orleans area. In her various roles, she hopes to pass on her commitment to serving and leadership to the younger players on the soccer team.
“I really want to get some of the underclassmen on the soccer team involved in SAAB,” McArthur said. “There were girls on the soccer team involved with SAAB when I got to Tulane and they helped me get started. I hope the freshmen and sophomores now can recognize the importance of it like I have. They can help great things happen for Tulane student-athletes in the future.”
Looking ahead, McArthur has aspirations to serve in the Peace Corps. However, whatever her path, McArthur knows that her time as a Tulane student-athlete, and specifically a member of the soccer team, has served her well for the future.”It really is an honor to represent the girls on the soccer team, both as team captain and as part of SAAB,” McArthur said. “They are 24 of some of the best friends and best people I have ever met. Having these people around me over the last few years has made for an incredible experience. My time at Tulane has been phenomenal and I’m glad I was able to take advantage of my opportunities while I was here.”