A critical element of the SAFE and SMIA philosophy is academic excellence, which helps to reinforce self-esteem and athletic performance. The model has seen a success rate (based on improved grades in school) of more than 95 percent.
SAFE Foundation officials continuously monitor the players’ performance in school through their teachers, counselors and parents. It is mandatory that a player maintain a C average and above. If a player’s overall grade point average drops below C, he or she is suspended from the team until they get their grades back up.
While SAFE does not provide tutoring, per se, it encourages the schools to help the player get the assistance they need, such as tutoring, etc. According to Coach Aleks, “The teachers and counselors understand our commitment to education, so they help us to put a support system in place for a student, if necessary.”
Again, because this educational requirement is inculcated into SAFE and SMIA players, they know that time spent “away from the books” could land them time “off the field.” Not a desired outcome for most of these young players, indeed.