Golden Eagles prove skills on and off field

This summer, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes announced that five of John Brown University‘s athletic teams received Scholar-Team Awards for 2013-2014. Women’s tennis, volleyball, women’s cross country, men’s cross country and women’s soccer all received the honorable title.

In order for a team to even be considered for the NAIA Scholar-Team award, it must have a minimum 3.0 grade-point average.

In an article posted on the National Collegiate Athletic Association website, some of the benefits of being a collegiate student-athlete include receiving a college education, exposure and experiences, elite training opportunities, healthy living and academic success. According to the article, college student-athletes graduate at higher rates than college students in general.

For the John Brown University women’s soccer team, who averaged a 3.31 grade point average last year, the academic success wasn’t achieved with winning awards in mind.

“I think it’s awesome that we won the award, but honestly I’m not sure that anyone was making good grades to purposefully receive the award,” senior Madison Susmilch said.

“We value what we do in the classroom as much as our performance on the field, and so making good grades is just a characteristic of our team.”

Susmilch, who is playing her fourth and final season as a Golden Eagle, acknowledges that the success doesn’t come easily.

“Since we miss so much class for games, playing catch up with all of my school work is an issue,” Susmilch said. “Thankfully, other students in my classes are so willing to help me with what I miss.”

On average, student athletes spend around 40-50 hours per week during season on activities related to their sport, according to an article posted on CNN Money. For most people, that is considered a full-time job.

Susmilch said that time management is the key to success.

“When I was in high school and playing sports, there wasn’t much time management involved because games were never during school or class hours. Now, they can be at any time, which raises the level in the classroom and on the field,” Susmilch said. “It was a huge transition.”

All John Brown University athletic teams adopt the NAIA Champions of Character Five-Start Institution standards: integrity, responsibility, respect, sportsmanship and servant leadership.

The women’s soccer team is currently ( 4-1-1) overall. Their next game will take place Saturday on their home field against Benedictine.