BYU. Rutgers. Oregon State. Duke. These are just a few of the universities SLCC athletes are headed to in continuing their athletic career.
Most junior college athletes arrive on campus with one goal: to improve their skills enough to ultimately move on to play for a four-year institution.
Many people know of former Bruin men’s basketball player Gary Payton II because of his father, hall of famer Gary ‘The Glove’ Payton. After completing an outstanding 2013-14 season for the Bruins, he was voted Region 18 Co-Player of the Year. Payton II is now following his father’s footsteps and will be lacing up for the Beavers of Oregon State University next season.
Former women’s basketball players Natalie Parsons and Mercedes Riggs have signed their letters of intent to major Division 1 schools as well. Parsons is headed to Rutgers University as Riggs is headed to national powerhouse Duke University.
Former pitcher Brady Corless signed with BYU, and fellow pitcher Eric Carter signed with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, with a team that has ranked top NCAA Division 1 for many weeks this past 2014 season.
“When we have athletes moving on to big time schools it shows the quality of the programs we have here at SLCC,” says former Athletic Director Norma Carr. “It shows that our coaches prepare the athletes both athletically and academically to reach Division 1 standards.”
All these accolades and achievements are nice and very well deserved for all their efforts in competition, however one thing that should not go unnoticed are these athletes’ efforts in the classroom.
Many people have the perception that junior college student-athletes are the non-academic qualifiers—the ones who could not make it out of high school into an NCAA institution, but that is not the case.
Of the five teams at SLCC, three of them achieved an overall team GPA of 3.00 or better, with the other two teams not far behind.
Of the roughly 90 athletes that wear the royal blue and gold of the Bruins, 52 of them were named Scenic West Athletic Conference All-Academic, which requires a GPA of at least 3.20 and completing 24 hours.
During Carr’s 25-year career as Athletic Director, she and the entire coaching staff made it clear that academics is a top priority as an athlete at SLCC.
“Absolutely it is a major priority,” Carr stated. “Not only does it help further their collegiate athletic careers but it also helps them with their lives. The word is student-athlete not athlete-student. I am proud of our coaches to instill that type of expectation.”
Of those 52 student-athletes that received academic recognition within the conference, seven received National Junior College Athletic Association All-Academic praise. This is no easy task as these standards are much more strict than conference standards.
In order to receive NJCAA recognition, the student-athlete must achieve a cumulative GPA of at least a 3.60. To have seven of them in one year is an outstanding achievement.
One correlation to these national academic awards is all seven recipients were Region 18 performers athletically as well.
When asked of the correlation, Carr said, “I believe there is a direct relationship of how good they will be on the court or field. They can think and analyze better. Our ‘Know Greater Heroes’ program has taught them leadership qualities as well.”
With many student-athletes exiting SLCC for various reasons, 85 percent of them are exiting with an associate degree in hand.
Not bad. Not bad at all.