The GC athletic department has the highest Federal Graduation Rate of all the state schools in the NCAA.
“It all goes back to we have outstanding students,” said director of athletics Wendell Staton.
In 2011, the GPA average of GC athletes was 2.88. Since then, it has been at a steady increase. In 2018, The GPA average of GC athletes was 3.25. Women’s cross country typically has the top team GPA. Multiple athletes on this team have 4.0s.
“This past year [the average GPA of women’s cross country] was 3.79, which is the highest we’ve ever had for a single team, so that was pretty exciting,” said Al Weston, assistant athletic director, communications.
Women’s cross country, men’s cross country, softball and soccer have high team GPAs.
“Athletes go to class, travel all over the southeast in competitions, practice almost every night and go to the weight room before class,” Weston said. “The time management of our student athletes are amazing.”
When GC coaches are recruiting, they try to identify students who will be successful at GC.
Staton said the GPA averages of the athletic department “is a product of the institution. There is excellence all around.”
The average ACT, SAT and GPA of incoming student athletes are identical to those of an incoming student non-athlete. The standard of acceptance is equal for athlete and non-athlete alike at GC.
“We get great students that are also great athletes,” Weston said.
Senior Sarah Wilder was the female athlete with the highest GPA in the Peach Belt, winning the Elite 15 award. Wilder is a chemistry major and mathematics minor with a 4.0 GPA. As vice president of chemistry club, she hosts school shows that spread chemical awareness and inspires children to learn more about science.
“There’s been several long bus rides of me sitting on my computer typing up lab reports,” Wilder said. “We are definitely students first and athletes second.”
According to NCAA.org, the graduation rate of GC athletes was 79 percent, while the graduation rate for the entire students body was 66 percent in 2011. The student athlete academic success rate of was 81 percent.
“At the end of the day, we try to graduate a champion for life,” Staton said.
Student athletes have to learn how to manage their time well, and they have multiple people keeping them accountable.
“I am the person I am because of this program,” Wilder said. “They have pushed me to be as good as I can be on and off the course.”
Photo by Katie O'Neal | Senior Writer
Graphic by Alex Jones | Sports Editor