With a quarter of Simpson’s students participating in sports, many students have to balance the added responsibilities of sports with their grades.
“The only time that athletes in season have time to study is at night after practice,” sophomore cross country runner Erin Hunerdosse said. “[When I was] a freshmen, the cross country team had a study table set up to help us with study habits and stay on top of our grades.”
The women’s cross country team may not need a study table to keep on top of its grades: it’s won the Grade Cup three out of the last four years. In 2004, the team won the trophy with a 3.65 team grade point average.
The Grade Cup Trophy is given out during the year-end sports banquet. There is no actual trophy, just recognition for successfully balancing competitive athletics with focused academics.
“There is a men’s team champion and women’s team champion every year,” said assistant athletic director and wrestling coach Ron Peterson. “The winner is decided based on the whole team’s GPA”
The men’s tennis team has dominated the contest recently.
“Smaller teams are often the winner,” Peterson said. “One athlete with a 4.0 will influence the overall G.P.A. for the tennis team more than it would say if the athlete was on the football team.”
No matter what the size of the team, Simpson requires that all coaches have to check their athletes’ grades at midterm and at the end of each semester. Peterson and professor of mathematics Bruce Sloan look at copies of the grades.
“Different coaches have different demands in the classroom,” Peterson said. “Bruce Wilson is meticulous with the boy’s basketball teams’ grades. Other coaches do not monitor grades constantly because Simpson athletes have proved that they can handle athletics and academics.”
Peterson said Simpson’s overall athletic GPA has gone up.
“This may be accredited to a constantly improving sports program and to tougher admissions requirements for prospective students,” Peterson said.
Coaches know their individual sport is important, but players and coaches realize that being a student is the top priority.
“Some coaches will let an athlete miss a practice or do a workout on their own time if they have a big test coming up,” Hunerdosse said. “I actually think that sports improve my GPA because it keeps me on a set schedule. When I am not in season, I feel lazy and unmotivated.”