GV athletes make the grade on the field, in the classroom
Grand Valley State University has placed 22nd out of 100 Division II colleges and universities for academic performance by student athletes in a ranking compiled by the National Collegiate Scouting Association.
The rankings, which are used by prospective athletes looking to choose a college, are compiled by averaging each college’s ranking in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup, the student-athlete graduation rate for each school and the U.S. News & World Report ranking.
“We are at a school where we strive to succeed academically,” said Tim Selgo, GVSU’s athletic director. “Overall, our athletes have a nine percent higher graduation rate than the student body. Along with that, we have a nine percent higher retention rate than the student body.”
Selgo contributed much of the success to the coaches GVSU has along with having higher academic standards when recruiting.
“We have outstanding coaches here at Grand Valley,” said Selgo, who said most NCAA universities only require a 2.0 GPA while GVSU is closer to 3.0. “They know their stuff and it shows in the classroom. It really all starts with the coaches.”
Doug Woods is GVSU’s softball coach and during his time with the university, his teams have graduated players at a near-perfect rate.
“I know the players do have a high graduation rate,” Woods said. “I have been coaching, this is my twenty-third year, and the girls that have been in the program for four years, we have only had one not graduate so our rates are way up there.”
Following this season, Woods said he has five seniors who have been with the team for four years and all five plan on graduating at the end of the year.
“I think those people who are playing a sport and going to school, they are pretty motivated,” Woods said. “Their time management skills are good and they are motivated to get it done and that degree is what they want … We put a big emphasis that the academics are a large part of it and that’s why you are here. Softball is secondary and a lot of our players chose Grand Valley because of our strong academics.”
Following the 2011-2012 season, the softball team had 11 girls named to the All-GLIAC academic team and five named to the National Fastpitch Association all-academic team.
“I check with them all the time, at practice you know?” Woods said. “We talk about it, if they have any problems, they can get a hold of me and we work through it with Damon Arnold at the Academic Resource Center to help them out.”
Woods also realizes that no matter how much emphasis he puts on studying, it is still their responsibility to keep their grades up.
“My thought is they have to grow up and mature on their own so that is their responsibility to get them to study,” Woods said. “I really can’t force them to do that, they have to do that on their own. But then again, if we have a student that might have a problem in a class, then we get a tutor and get help with that situation.”
Katie Martin is a senior designated hitter for the Lakers and has been able to excel both on and off the field, but even she said that it was tough as a freshman.
“I have definitely gotten better,” Martin said. “I was an engineering student but now I’m in business. For me, it was about not knowing how to study. In high school I didn’t have to study but in college it was like, wow. It was about growing and learning how to study and learning how teachers would ask questions on the tests.”
Martin said that not only learning how to study, but finding a better place to study helped her succeed at the university.
“As a freshman, I was in the dorms and studying was hard,” Martin said. “I now am in an apartment so that helps to have a quiet place to study. It all comes down to transitioning into a better student.”
Selgo and Martin agreed that while GVSU’s athletes are excelling academically, most still do better when the season is going on.
“A lot of our student athletes say they actually do better in school when the season is going on,” Selgo said. “They have that set routine that actually helps them.”
That routine, along with learning time management has helped Martin.
“When you are in season, you have to manage your time, if not then you will be behind,” Martin said. “You are doing things sometimes six hours a day so managing your time is very important.”
With the continued success comes the ability to recruit and breed success in the future.
“Success breeds success and because of this, it attracts successful students to come to Grand Valley,” Selgo said.
“We know and the players coming in know that Grand Valley academics are excellent,” Woods said. “That is one of the reasons they have chosen to come here and we get students that want to work hard at it, study, and get it done.”
With GVSU finishing in second place in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup last year and then the 22nd place finish in the NCSA ranking, the hope is that players will continue to choose GVSU, not just for its athletics but also for its academics.