Mesa Community College athletes were honored as all-academic by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) for the 2013-2014 school year.
Seven MCC teams were honored for their overall GPA, with Women’s Basketball player Mariah Willadsen receiving the Pinnacle Award for Academic Excellence, which is given to student athletes with a 4.0 GPA.
Along with the Women’s Basketball team the MCC Men’s and Women’s Golf, Women’s Cross Country, Men’s and Women’s Tennis and Baseball teams were also honored all-academic according to the NJCAA’s website.
For a student or team to be considered all-academic, they must achieve a GPA of 3.0 or better.
Head coach of Women’s Basketball, Kori Stephenson said she was proud of what her team had accomplished.
“They work hard in the classroom,” Stephenson said.
The lady T-Birds received all-academic status while also becoming national champions in the 2013-14 season.
To achieve the honors on and off the court, Stephenson said communication with staff and instructors is key.
The students and teams are honored on the NJCAA website, where they can also download certificates for their specific achievements.
Stephenson said that the athletics department also honors students for their academic success.
The Women’s Basketball team takes steps to ensure the success of their athletes both on and off the court.
Rather than just hoping that the team becomes all-academic, the athletes have expectations that they work to meet as a team.
“We set process goals to achieve the outcome goal,” Stephenson said. “It’s an expectation every year. We like to say that ‘no one rises to low expectations’”
One such process goal includes weekly grade checks Stephenson said, so that coaches can be proactive about assisting struggling athletes.
The students are driven to work hard to triumph in class and when competing, which is necessary for success.
“They are good character kids; they want it too,” Stephenson said.
The team works together as well; if someone is having difficulty in a particular class they can seek help from their peers.
“They can ask one of their teammates,” Stephenson said. “They may have already taken the class.”
With a new school year comes new challenges, but the goal of the teams remains the same.
Stephenson said that at the beginning of each year the coaching staff set the expectation for athletes to reach NJCAA all-academic status, and provide the tools and assistance they need to meet this expectation.