Student athletes excel on and off the field


Pioneer student athletes are setting their standards high for academic success in the GLIAC. Measuring up against its tough opponents in the GLIAC , the Pioneers are taking their hard-working success over to the classroom as well.

The university has always been strong academically, and now that the Pioneers have reached NCAA Division II status, the school will be given a yearly academic success rating (ASR) to see where they rank against the rest of the GLIAC and the nation.

“The ASR is calculated based on three factors: the overall cumulative GPA, the retention rate and the graduation rate of the athletes,” athletic director Charlie Grimes said.

Senior basketball player Deborah Simmers is one of the many student athletes that has proven her excellence in both athletics and academics. Many Pioneer student athletes have excelled both on and off the court. (Photo courtesy of Andy Smith)

The Pioneers scored a 98/100 during the 2012-2013 year, which would have been the highest rating in the GLIAC last year and one of the top scores in Division II. The Pioneers were unofficial members of Division II last year, but plan on receiving notoriety for their efforts this upcoming year.

“Each year it’s recalculated, and this year (2013-14) we are 91/100,” Grimes said. “That is second in the GLIAC this year against Hillsdale who is 93/100.We feel that we can definitely finish over 90% on a year-to-year basis. That’s going to put us in the top 10% in all of Division II on this rating.”

Along with scoring high on the ASR, the Pioneers look to have a longer list of conference and national scholar athlete award winners this year. Last year, 47 Pioneers received national scholar-athlete recognition.

“It takes discipline and you have to stay organized,” national scholar-athlete and senior guard Deborah Simmers said. “If I’m not doing basketball stuff, my next priority is school work.”

Athletes have often been stereotyped as jocks who don’t take academics seriously. However, the Pioneers are proving this stereotype wrong.

“Of course I like breaking that stereotype; I know a whole bunch of athletes that are really smart,” Simmers said. “It makes me feel like I’m worth more than just my athleticism.”

When a student athlete handles his or her business in the classroom, it benefits the athlete as well as the team.

“It’s easy to get sidetracked,” Simmers said “If I complete my schoolwork and eliminate distractions, it helps me focus during practice and in games my mind isn’t on other things.”

Student athletes have also set great examples around the campus by tutoring, writing for the school paper and working in the writing center.

“In the writing center I help people with their papers, whether that’s coming up with ideas, revising or editing,” junior linebacker Taylor Wilhelm said.

Although some may view the athletic life as one of luxury, athletes are held to the same expectations as any other student.

“That’s not the case here, I haven’t got any breaks and I feel like everyone is treated equally here,” Wilhelm said.

Many athletes play their respective sport with goals in reaching the professional level, but education is important for life after sports.

“I try to set an example of how other people should take school seriously,” Wilhelm said.“For me, I know football isn’t going to be my career, so I also focus on my schoolwork.”

Although it’s a challenging life of being dedicated and disciplined, Pioneer athletes will continue their success in being well-rounded student athletes.

”You have to give it your all and do your best in everything you do,” Wilhelm said.“ You got to use the gifts that God has blessed you with.”


 Tim Woods is a sports writer for The Aviso AVW.

Categories: Sports

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