By Allie Hale
More than just success on the field, Reinhardt student-athletes are showing they can excel in the classroom as well.
All 16 programs that were up and running during the 2015-16 school year were announced last month as NAIA Scholar Teams. Reinhardt is only one of 10 school in the nation to have 16 teams receive this award.
The Reinhardt University teams that received the NAIA Scholar-Team Award are baseball, football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s cross country, women’s cross country, men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, softball, volleyball, men’s outdoor track and field, and women’s outdoor track and field.
“I could not be more proud of the academic performance of all of our student-athletes and the continued effort of the athletic department staff for making sure that these young men and women understand the value of the whole college experience, and not just their love of athletics,” said Reinhardt Athletic Director Bill Popp. “We continue to talk about how important academic success has been to all of our programs overall success, and this year we went out and proved that it was more than just talk with all 16 of our NAIA championship or invitational eligible teams making a 3.0 or better.“
While 16 Reinhardt teams received the award, the women’s soccer team, women’s tennis team and men’s soccer stood out.
During the 2015-16 Academic year, the Reinhardt University women’s soccer team maintained their academic reputation in the NAIA by earning an average GPA of 3.77. The women’s soccer team is ranked 15th in the nation of all NAIA athletic teams. Also, their GPA of 3.77 is the 10th highest GPA in the nation.
This is the second year the team has represented Reinhardt academically. In the 2014-15 academic year, the Reinhardt women’s soccer team had an identical GPA which put them 6th in the nation and first for all women’s soccer teams in the NAIA.
“The 2015 team has set the standard for all teams to follow. Our players have embraced the pursuit of excellence in all facets of their lives. Earning a 3.77 team GPA while winning a third consecutive conference championship and a national ranking is extraordinary. I am proud and honored to be the coach of such an amazing group of young women,” said Andy Kaplan, head coach for the women’s soccer team.
The women’s tennis team also had a successful academic year and gained recognition. With an average GPA of 3.76, they are ranked 19th in the nation of all NAIA athletic teams and have the highest GPA of all women’s tennis teams in the NAIA.
“I’m very happy with the effort of our team in the classroom last year,” said RU tennis head coach Jennifer Pourchier. “To make the national tournament and win the conference championship for the first time was great, but to have the best GPA for a women’s tennis program in the country is just outstanding.”
Additionally, the men’s soccer team had the highest GPA of all men’s soccer teams in the NAIA with an average GPA of 3.60. The 2014-15 Eagles had a 3.53 GPA and was ranked the second-highest in the country.
“I am pleased to see the players recognized for their hard work in the classroom,” said RU head men’s soccer coach Joey Johnson. “In the end, the character traits that enabled these young men to be successful on the field have translated into success in the classroom. To be successful in both arenas simultaneously takes discipline, commitment, and hard work. I am proud of these young men for the way they represent our program, our institution and our community.”
RU’s men’s cross country team had a mark of 3.63, which was the highest for an RU men’s team and tied for the fourth-highest GPA for a men’s cross country program in the country.
Sports Information Director Jason Hanes contributed to this article.