Young couple aims to mentor and ease financial burden for student-athletes

Ashley and Steve Hazel

Young couple aims to mentor and ease financial burden for student-athletes

W hen Ashley Savransky Hazel, ’17, and Steve Hazel, ’14, ’16, were student-athletes at Georgia College (GC), they realized the significance of being selected as scholarship recipients.

Ashley, a three-year team captain, played four years for the inaugural volleyball team and Steve was a baseball player. They knew how it felt to be supported by people who believed in them. It helped them make efficient use of their time in school, resulting in valuable lessons learned on- and-off the court and field.

Ashley is now a marketing coordinator for a hospitality management company that operates several hotels and restaurants in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She enjoys the uniqueness of her profession, where she gets to try different food and drinks and visit distinctive hotels. This keeps her up-to-date on what’s going on in the community.

Ashley got fundamental knowledge from her classes at Georgia College, which eased her entry into the professional world. 

Ashley prepares to spike the ball.
Ashley prepares to spike the ball.

“I’m more of a generalist in my role, so I do a lot of everything,” said Ashley. “The marketing and management classes, as well as other courses, covered the basics of everything and really set me off to be successful at what I’m doing, because it created the groundwork for what I do.”

Ashley especially enjoyed Professor of Marketing Dr. Joanna Schwartz’s class on consumer behavior. This course helped her understand the purchasing decisions people make.

“I try to take this into account all the time,” she said. “It’s not just about making the sale, but understanding and providing value for people and knowing where their motives came from. Those lessons have really stuck with me. I use these skills, because they’re very important.”

Playing volleyball taught Ashley how to connect with others and understand different communication styles, as well. 

“We had rules to follow to represent Georgia College and the volleyball team, and you really had to present yourself a certain way, because it matters. I think there are a ton of lessons to learn from that, as well as the work ethic I gained from that experience.”
– Ashley Hazel

“We had different personalities on our volleyball team. They all click in a different way, and that’s true in the workplace too,” she said. “So, I would talk to people in distinctive ways to resonate with them.”

Sports also taught her time management and self-discipline. Ashley would wake up early, do workouts then go to class.

There wasn’t as much time for napping, watching TV or hanging out with friends. Instead, idle time was spent being productive.

“When I was on the bus going to a game, I didn’t just watch Netflix. I spent that time getting my work done first,” Ashley said. “Dealing with that distraction is also true in the workplace. As I work from home now, there are so many distractions, but being able to focus helps. Volleyball helped me schedule my life and focus on time management, so I use these skills all the time.”

While at Georgia College, she represented a brand as a volleyball player, and now she represents a company. 

“We had rules to follow to represent Georgia College and the volleyball team, and you really had to present yourself a certain way, because it matters,” she said. “I think there are a ton of lessons to learn from that, as well as the work ethic I gained from that experience.”

Steve is a territory manager with Shaw Industries. Georgia College also provided him with a good business foundation. 

“I deal with small business owners who perform a lot of different tasks,” he said. “Because I had management, finance and marketing classes, I can talk about a lot about different topics with them.”

Steve feels his business statistics Professor Dr. Chuck Ryan had the most influence on him. 

Steve runs a play.
Steve runs a play.

“If you showed you were putting in the work, he would help make you a success,” Steve said. “I got an A on his first test and then got a B on the second one. He told me to come see him in his office after the second test and said, ‘This is not acceptable for you.’ And I thought, ‘I got a B man.’ He said, ‘You’re better than that.’”

Ryan expected excellence from his students. This makes a big impact on how Steve performs everyday tasks.

“Now, I demand excellence from myself and everyone around me,” he said. “I’m very thorough. I want to get things done the right way. Not just at work, but in anything I do.” 

“Even though we don’t know the students who receive our scholarship, we want them to understand there are people out there who care about them and want to invest in their future. We might not know them, but we are still interested in making GC a better place for them.” 
– Steve Hazel

Steve also considers being an athlete a full-time job. When baseball season was in full swing, he felt he was more productive. Being on the road with little time to spare ensured he used every spare minute.

Steve was a recipient of the Martha Erwin Sibley Scholarship, and Ashley also received scholarships. Now they want to reciprocate and provide this advantage for other students with the Hazel Baseball Scholarship.

“Even though we don’t know the students who receive our scholarship, we want them to understand there are people out there who care about them and want to invest in their future,” Steve said. “We might not know them, but we are still interested in making GC a better place for them.” 

“Having the opportunity to get scholarships, like the one we’re offering, had a direct impact on Steve’s life and now our lives,” said Ashley. “Steve and I are passionate about financial peace. This scholarship can impact students, so they can start their careers after coming out of college debt-free and having support from people who care deeply about them.” 

Former student-athletes Ashley and Steve Hazel
Former student-athletes Ashley and Steve Hazel

Considering Ashley and Steve haven’t been out of college long, they feel they can relate to the financial strain students have.

“We understand what that looks like,” said Ashley. “We’d like to mentor students by providing guidance whether it’s struggles in their sport or coming out of school. I’m a strong believer in networking, so being that resource for athletes is important to us.”

The Hazels have no doubt they made the right decision to offer a baseball scholarship. They eventually plan to offer one for students who play volleyball, as well.

“It’s a good way to stay connected,” said Steve. “We’re Bobcats for life.”