Football Player Putting the 'Student' in Student-Athlete

Posted on 9/9/2015 2:27:29 PM
Walt Pegues

Walt Pegues is doing his part to erase the long-standing myth of the dumb jock.

Yes, he's a key member of the IUP football team, and a good one at that. But football is only part of what Pegues is about. When his nose isn't in the Crimson Hawks' playbook, it's in his textbooks, as his thirst for an education gets quenched every day as a student in the Cook Honors College.

“The most important thing is to get my degree. And after that, I want to get a master's degree. I love school and I love football. I just have a love of college, period.”

- Walt Pegues

“I'm not just out here playing football,” he said. “I can't wait for school to get started again. I like having the structure of it all.”

When he was in high school, Pegues knew he wanted to go to a college that did more than just give lip service to its academic standards. He wanted to find a place where he would be challenged to think differently, to understand other points of view and to explore topics he was unfamiliar with.

And he wanted to play football, a sport that demands a lot of time from its student-athletes.

A mutual match

A native of Philadelphia, Pegues could have attended a number of other colleges, but when he learned about IUP's Honors College, he knew he had found a place that could offer all he wanted.

What also helped make Pegues' decision easy was the feeling he got that IUP wanted him. Admissions Office staffers had come to Philadelphia many times, and he met with them and learned what IUP was all about. By the time he visited the campus in person, the decision was easy.

“I looked into it,” he said, “and IUP was a perfect fit.”

Since coming to IUP, Pegues has dived right into his major, communications media, and he is eyeing a career in public relations or broadcasting when his days in the classroom and on the football field are over.

He also has excelled on the field, where he went from a first-year freshman to a key member of the IUP offense in just a matter of weeks. And when his freshman season ended, Pegues was named to the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division all-star team after catching 45 passes for 607 yards and four touchdowns.

And to top it off, he set a school record for longest punt return when he took a kick back 96 yards for a touchdown against Seton Hill on Homecoming.

Balancing Act

For a lot of student-athletes, finding a way to balance classroom work with practice schedules and games is a difficult task. But Pegues said being able to keep things in perspective is what has helped him the most.

“Some people get caught up in everything, but my parents have showed me the right way. Football is important, but it's only part of the reason why I'm here. I'm here to get my degree. But you can't be on the football field if you're not right in the classroom.”

But Pegues knows graduation will come only after all the work is done, and he's excited about every single class, every single day.

“The most important thing is to get my degree,” he said. “And after that, I want to get a master's degree. I love school and I love football. I just have a love of college, period.”