By Ben Markley
Some teams are known for their batting average but few are also known for their grade point average. The college’s baseball team’s GPA has ranked in the top 16 in the country for the past four years.
Coach Kent Shelley said his team realized the importance of being good students as well as good athletes.
“They fully understand that anything that they do is a reflection, not only of the baseball program, but our college and our community,” he said. “We see ourselves as ambassadors of the college as we travel throughout the country.”
The team has maintained a minimum 3.1 GPA for four years, averaging as high as a 3.44. They were also the second baseball team in the Jayhawk Conference to win the Tom Sloan Scholar Cup, an award decided through a combination of winning percentage and team GPA, in 2009 and again in 2010.
Shelley said having time to be a successful athlete and student was not easy.
“It certainly isn’t easy in today’s society to be a student athlete,” he said. “They have to juggle basically three schedules: their class schedule, their athletic schedule and their personal schedule.”
First baseman Evan Brummett, a pre-med student, said the hectic schedule was hard but expected.
“Time management is really big, especially in January, so you try to get assignments done as early as you can,” he said. “We have an understanding that you have to get stuff done in the classroom first.”
Shelley explained that, despite the counselors’ efforts to plan student athletes’ schedules around the season, bad weather always posed a challenge.
“Once we start experiencing rain-outs, snow-outs and cold days, then we have to start making those games up and playing on off-days,” he said. “Often times, those are the kids’ heavy days with their course loads.”
Pitcher Alex Hill, a business student, said participating in baseball was worth it, despite the necessary sacrifices.
“Sometimes you lose sleep, but you’ve got to get things done,” he said. “You’ve got to love the game.”
Outfielder Jacob Dowell, a freshman with a 4.0 GPA, said he learned things on the field as well as the classroom.
“You learn a lot about working with other people and working through adversity,” he said. “Whenever you’re on the field, it’s a mental game.”
Shelley said baseball was a classroom of its own.
“Sports in general is a direct correlation to life,” he said. “It teaches the kids to participate with passion, and that’s something we talk about a lot: playing the great game with passion, to pursue education with passion, to live life with passion.”
Contact Ben Markley, staff reporter, at firstname.lastname@example.org.