Student-athletes prove champions on field, in classroom

Student-athletes prove champions on field, in classroom

Curtis Kalleward

Think winning a national championship is tough? Try doing it while carrying a 4.0 GPA and studying biomedical sciences.

Former Grand Valley State University women’s soccer star Natalja Stanski did just that. Stanski, who culminated her stellar career with last year’s title run, was named one of three finalists in Division II for the 2010 NCAA Women of the Year award.

“It gives us great pride when our student-athletes not only achieve great things in their particular sport, but when they are rewarded for also doing a great job in the classroom,” said GVSU athletic director Tim Selgo. “It speaks well for Grand Valley when our student athletes receive prestigious academic rewards as well as athletic awards.”

The difficulties of being a student-athlete can surpass those of other students, underlining the strength of Stanksi’s honor.

Senior quarterback Kyle McMahon transferred to GVSU last spring from Eastern Michigan University. He said the rigors of performing as a student-athlete can be tough.

“You have to be able to balance everything,” he said. “You have to know what’s expected of you in every aspect of college life. There are the football expectations, but then there are the expectations that you put on yourself, along with the ones from parents, teachers and the university administration. You have to have your priorities in order and be able to perform on every level.”

While McMahon admitted there is more pressure at GVSU to perform well on and off the field because of the rich history, Selgo emphasized that academics are still top priority for everyone.

“We have three major goals as an athletic administration for all of our student athletes,” he said. “Our No. 1 goal is to create the best learning environment possible. While they may be talented athletes, they come to college to learn and get an education. We want to help them get their degrees from Grand Valley and prepare them for the rest of their lives.”

While the Laker football program recently produced four current NFL players, head coach Matt Mitchell said academics are the team’s main focus.

“Stressing academics is an important part of the recruiting process,” he said. “These guys are all going to be making their professions doing something other than playing football. If we can recruit some quality athletes who are also good students, it’s good for our university to have those guys as representatives.”

Mitchell mentioned that coaches and teammates are always willing to help out anyone in need. All freshmen are required to attend study tables six hours a week along with any upperclassmen whose GPAs have fallen below a 2.5.

“All of our coaches go out and class check,” he said. “We’re out there making sure our guys go to their 8 (a.m.) and 9 (a.m.) morning classes. We encourage them to use all the resources at Grand Valley because there are plenty of people who will help academically if you’re hurting in a certain area.”

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