Twenty-nine North Central athletes were named to the UMAC all-academic team this year. In the past three fall seasons (2013, 2014 and 2015), 24, 26 and 29 North Central student-athletes made the UMAC All-academic team.
To make the all-academic team, athletes must achieve a grade point average of 3.5 or higher during their semester of competition. Greg Johnson, North Central’s athletic director, said that the teams place a higher emphasis on academics than even athletic achievement.
In the fall, 22 student-athletes earned a 4.0 GPA. Johnson is pleased with the direction student-athletes are headed, and hopes they continue to improve on that success.
“Typically the student-athlete GPA is right at or slightly above the general student population GPA,” Johnson said, “I think it’s a testament to our coaches and their leadership.”
Megan Kaczmarek, assistant women’s soccer coach, and head cross country coach Trey Meadows both emphasize the importance of encouraging academics to their athletes.
Kaczmarek checks in with the women and their academics to get a sense on how they are doing with managing academics and soccer. She said that she and head coach, Andrew Cameron, want the women to do the best they can in their academics.
With the cross-country team, the coaching staff communicates and expects that student-athletes do well with setting the academic bar high.
“Our team motto is ‘be excellent,’ and that is to have a love for everything you’re doing,” Meadows said. “Part of that is that you are at North Central to study for something specific that has been put in your heart for your future goals.”
It is clear that academics are important to both student-athletes and coaches. This is not always easy because of the time management skills that must be learned as an athlete.
“I think a big part of balancing academics and athletics is having a schedule and only choosing so much free time,” volleyball captain Ashley Kelzer said in an email, “You have to be disciplined in that free time and choose homework over social life.”
With the student-athletes emphasizing academics, North Central athletics wants to continue achieving awards of UMAC All-Academic team and ranking in the top schools with a high GPA average. A continued growth will bring about more success for both the school and athletics department, according to Johnson.
“I’m proud that they take ownership of team performance in the classroom, just as much as wins and losses,” Johnson said.