Spectators to any college sporting event know what’s on the line. It’s a win-or-lose fight between two teams. What they don’t see, though, is how the battle doesn’t stop on the court.
The Western Carolina University women’s basketball team knows all about the battle on and off the court. Each year, they’re not just fighting for a Southern Conference championship, but a top 10 NCAA team combined GPA ranking.
Western’s women’s basketball team held a 3.491 GPA at the end of the Spring 2013 semester, just barely missing the tenth best grade point average in the nation. While the competition is fierce in the SoCon, Head Coach Karen Middleton sees the competition from these ladies in their schoolwork.
“These ladies see it as a competition every year,” said Middleton. “They’re always trying to get the best grades possible to have the best GPA in the Southern Conference.”
To be nationally recognized as a team with a GPA like Western’s women’s team is no easy feat. Unlike students who just come to WCU for an education, these ladies have to deal with travelling on the road for away games, missing classes, and still having to learn the same amount of information that a regular student would have to know.
“It’s a day-to-day thing. They really gotta have great balance of being able to practice and prepare for practices, on top of obviously the number one thing of doing well in the classroom,” said Middleton.
Senior Guard Hana Haden knows that there’s more to just going to class as a student-athlete. Leaning on teammates is what gets these ladies through the semester, and having teammates who share the same major is something that helps when it comes to figuring out assignments.
“I’m the oldest COMM major, being a senior COMM major,” said Haden. “Bree and E.J. are COMM majors as well, so it helps both sides where I can tell them what professors are looking for and stuff like that.”
Having two biochemistry majors on the team is something that everyone is proud of. Junior forward, Makensey Campbell, and sophomore center, Lindsey Burleson, are both pursuing a biochemistry degree, and though the team agrees they have it hardest when it comes to study time and homework, these two ladies hold two of the highest GPA’s on the team, and are looked up to for help from other teammates.
With a team that holds a nearly 3.5 cumulative GPA, many spectators would assume their on-court play would have to suffer, but the Catamounts have fought hard early this season, going into exam week in mid-December with a 6-3 record, the best record the team has had since 2007 to start a season.
After exam week, the team will resume play on December 16 with a home game against Charleston Southern.