Fifty-one Georgia College student athletes have been put on the Division 2 Athletics Directors Association Academic Achievement list. GC topped the list in the Peach Belt Conference, beating out the University of North Georgia, who had 47 award winners, and Flagler College, who had 42.
Junior Taylor Svehla was named on the list, along with five of her volleyball teammates. Svehla, a mathematics major, attributes her academic success to the culture established by the GC athletic administration.
“It’s definitely not easy trying to balance practice, travel and schoolwork at the same time,” Svehla said. “But the athletic department makes it known that academics are our first priority.”
The list’s standards were anything but easy, dictating that student-athletes must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or above after two years of college-level work while being an active member of an intercollegiate team.
GC Assistant Athletic Director of Communications Al Weston echoed Svehla’s sentiments about the commitment to academic excellence being from ”the top down.”
“We as a department try to guide them to become productive academically, athletically and socially,” Weston said.
Weston served as Sports Information Director for the Bobcats before moving to his current position, so he has first hand experience with the athletic department’s strategy.
Very rarely do Division II athletes move on to professional careers in their sports, so Weston said the athletic department focuses more on creating a ”well-rounded person who will be able to positively impact society.”
The competitive nature that comes with being a collegiate athlete translates to the classroom as well.
Junior pitcher Bradley Spinner said, “I enjoy studying, and I enjoy playing baseball, and with whichever one I’m doing, I want to be the best and give it all I have.”
GC competes at every level on the athletic department’s academic, athletic and social scale, with teams constantly competing for conference championships, and some even making waves at national tournaments. The athletic department’s commitment to academic excellence is reinforced by the presence of athletes on the list from each of GC’s 11 varsity sports.
Svehla summed up the commitment to academic excellence that pervades the athletic department. “I’m not happy or satisfied unless I put out my best work in any aspect, whether that be on the court or in the classroom,” Svehla said.