Two GVSU athletes take home GLIAC Commissioner’s Award

Two GVSU athletes take home GLIAC Commissioner’s Award

Josh Peick

In the sports world, success in the classroom can sometimes be overshadowed by how an athlete performs on the field. The GLIAC Commissioner’s Award is given to athletes who excel in the classroom and on the field.

Two Grand Valley State student athletes received the award for the 2016 spring season. Ethan Barnes (track and field) and Gianni Ferrero (swimming) were presented with the award for their work in the classroom and their respective sports.

Barnes, a senior, led the GVSU track and field as one of the top distance runners on the team. He finished in first place in the 800-meter and distance medley relay at the GLIAC Championships, but his contributions didn’t stop there.

He led the team to a fifth-place finish in the NCAA Division II Indoor National Championships. Barnes finished third in the 800-meter and contributed in an eighth-place finish in the distance medley relay.

“Over the course of his whole career, (Barnes) has been a steady person that has been at the national championships continuously,” said GVSU track and field coach Jerry Baltes. “He puts himself in a position to score and helps the team at a high level.”

Barnes’s success in the classroom was similar to his success on the track. He finished the year with a 3.91 GPA while majoring in integrated sciences. Barnes was able to maintain a high GPA by balancing time between athletics and academics.

“The biggest thing was taking advantage of time when I had time. It’s so easy in college to just sleep in, but it’s taking advantage of the time you have in order to be successful,” Barnes said.

His leadership on and off the field was vital for the track and field team, which has several young athletes.

“He does a great job of leading by example, doing everything right in every step of the way, and making good life choices to put himself in a good position to be successful,” Baltes said.

That same leadership was shown by Ferrero on the GVSU swimming and diving team. Ferrero was one of few seniors on the team and led the Lakers to a successful year in the pool.

“This year he set himself apart from other years,” said GVSU swimming and diving coach Andy Boyce. “He has always been one of the top guys in Division II.”

Ferrero captured first place in four individual events at the GLIAC Championships, leading GVSU to a first-place finish in the event. Like Barnes, Ferrero’s contributions did not stop after the GLIAC Championships.

Ferrero won the 100-meter butterfly at the NCAA Division II National Championship and finished in the top four in three other events. Ferrero totaled 68.5 points at the national championship, more than any other GVSU swimmer.

“To be in the top four in four events, there are not many swimmers out there that can do that,” Boyce said.

His success in the pool did not overshadow his success in the classroom. Ferrero maintained a 3.79 GPA, majoring in business administration.

“He works extremely hard to get where he’s at and it shows,” Boyce said. “It shows in his results in the classroom and in the pool.”

Ferrero was unavailable for comment because of his participation in the German National Championships. His relay team finished in first place in the 4×100 meter. Ferrero recorded the second-fastest individual time on his team.

Both athletes show that athletics do not diminish the importance of success in the classroom. The most important part of the term student athlete is the first part: student.