ECCC sports teams, players recognized for academic excellence

From press reports

Six athletic teams at East Central Community College in Decatur have been recognized for academic excellence by the National Junior College Athletic Association and 11 student-athletes qualified as NJCAA Academic All-Americans for 2011-12.

“We are very proud of our student-athletes and coaches for this outstanding achievement,” said ECCC President Dr. Phil A. Sutphin. “EC stands for academic quality and to have that demonstrated in our athletic program is confirmation of that success.”

At the top of the list is the Lady Warrior soccer squad, which received academic team of the year honors by posting a 3.48 grade point average. It’s the third time in the program’s brief history that the Kenneth Thompson-coached squad has received the prestigious honor.

Thompson expressed appreciation to team members for their accomplishment and sent a campus-wide email thanking faculty members for their dedication in helping student-athletes succeed in the classroom.

“A special thanks to all the instructors who work with my athletes in the classroom,” Thompson wrote. “Thank you for working with these young ladies as they move to accomplish long-term goals for the future. Even though these girls are very focused on their responsibilities, you are just as big a part of this award for what you do in the academic classroom with your students. Kudos to you as this is a reflection on your hard work as well. I will continue to strive to push each of my athletes, both male and female, to reach for higher and higher goals, but I will need your help to keep pushing them in the classroom as well. Again, thank you for what you do for our students as we strive to make East Central soccer the best it can be.”

The Lady Soccer Warriors also received NJCAA Academic Team of the Year honors in 2005 and 2009. In the 2010, the squad finished second by 0.02 points. The squad has never finished lower than sixth in the nation since the program’s inception in 2005.

Several soccer players were also recognized as NJCAA Academic All- Americans. Recognized for Superior Academic Achievement were Nikki Cumberland and Wendy McCracken Burns, both products of Newton County High School. Miguel Medrano, a graduate of East Ascension High School in Gonzales, La., and Emily Lucy of Newton County High School were recognized for Exemplary Academic Achievement.

The Warrior baseball team finished second in the national academic competition with a 3.37 grade point average. Team member Evan Humphries of Louisville was recognized for Exemplary Academic Achievement.

The Diamond Warriors are led by head coach Neal Holliman.

The Warrior tennis team placed third nationally with a 3.50 grade point average. Kyle Watson and Dianne O’Neill serve as co-head coaches.

Women’s softball posted a 3.49 grade point average and placed seventh in the nation. Several players also received individual honors. Kelsi Watson of Smithville High School and Kaetlen Brown of Edgewood Academy (Ala.) were recognized for Superior Academic Achievement. Receiving Exemplary Academic Achievement recognition were Haelie Allen of Leake Academy, Haylee Roberts of Enterprise; and Eden McGee of Neshoba Central. Scott Hill served as head coach.

The Lady Warrior tennis team finished 10th with a 3.40 grade point average. Kyle Watson and Dianne O’Neill serve as co-head coaches. EC’s golf team placed 25th nationally with a 3.03 grade point average. Chris Clark serves as head coach.

Former Warrior football player Tate Rogers of Louisville received Superior Academic Achievement honors. Brian Anderson serves as head coach. According a news release from the NJCAA Headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., more than 450 teams qualified for academic team accolades.

Nearly 60,000 student-athletes competed in the NJCAA for the 2011-12 academic year on more than 3,500 teams in 28 different sports.

The 2011-12 season marks the 29th year the NJCAA has recognized the success of its student-athletes in the classroom. With minimal changes, the NJCAA academic awards program has been in place since 1983.