DAY 23 (Aug. 23): Winning In The Classroom
Azusa Pacific’s athletic success is measured by eight consecutive Directors’ Cup trophies, but the Cougars have also been honored for success in the classroom. For the sixth consecutive year, at least 10 Cougar teams were recognized as NAIA Scholar Teams, and the 2011-12 campaign also featured the selection of 11 players who were the first student-athletes in school history named to their respective Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-America teams.
Ten Azusa Pacific teams earned the designation as an NAIA Scholar Team, which requires it to have a minimum 3.0 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) as defined by the institution. The team grade point average must include all varsity student-athletes certified as eligible. Azusa Pacific was one of four schools who finished in the top 10 of the Directors’ Cup standings to have 10 or more NAIA Scholar Teams, as well.
“I think that with most people who achieve academically, it doesn’t come naturally,” explained Azusa Pacific Director of Athletics Gary Pine. “They work at it, and it’s that kind of discipline put into a gifted athlete that strengthens their pursuit of excellence and performance. I strongly believe that iron sharpens iron, and when you come to Azusa Pacific, you’re challenged academically and surrounded by other competitive, high-achievement people, and that brings out the best in you.”
The 2011-12 NAIA Scholar Teams from Azusa Pacific were: baseball, women’s basketball, women’s cross country, women’s soccer, men’s soccer, women’s swimming & diving, women’s tennis, men’s tennis, women’s track & field, and volleyball.
“One of the main focal points for me as Athletics Director has been the academic success and progress of our athletics teams,” Pine said. “One of the things I’m most pleased with is that over half of our teams carry a 3.0 GPA or better. Given the academic rigor of this institution and the commitment we require of our student-athletes to their sports, that speaks very well to the type of student-athletes we have at Azusa Pacific.”
Eleven Cougar student-athletes also represented the school as Capital One Academic All-America selections. Five of those were first-team selections along with five who received second-team honors one on the third-team, and another seven Azusa Pacific student-athletes garnered Academic All-District honors.
“It takes a certain level of discipline to be academically strong as an individual,” said Pine. “If you have that kind of discipline in your academic pursuits, you’re also likely going to have that same type of discipline in your athletic pursuits.”
In order to be eligible for Academic All-America consideration, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.30 on a scale of 4.00, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standings at his/her current institution and be nominated by his/her sports information director. Since the program’s inception in 1952, CoSIDA has bestowed Academic All-America honors on more than 14,000 student-athletes in Divisions I, II, III and NAIA, covering all NCAA championship sports.
Azusa Pacific’s first-ever class of CoSIDA Academic All-Americans consisted of:
Shea Struiksma (1st team, football)
Mariah Worley (1st team, softball)
Heather Koch (1st team, softball)
Janosch Apelt (1st team, at large-men’s tennis)
Kim Koetterheinrich (1st team, at large-women’s tennis)
Matt Davis (2nd team, football)
Marguerite Hanna (2nd team, volleyball)
Natalie Barnaby (2nd team, softball)
Jochem Hoefnagels (2nd team, at large-men’s tennis)
Emily Harris (2nd team, at large-women’s tennis)
Matt Kimmel (3rd team, baseball)