Seven East Central Community College athletic teams and numerous student-athletes were recognized for academic achievement by the National Junior College Athletic Association, according to a news release from the NJCAA Headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo.
ECCC President Dr. Billy Stewart said the academic honors reflect the type of athletic program the College strives to produce each year.
“East Central’s 2020 Vision includes a desire to be ‘nationally recognized.’ Well, few, if any, of the more than 500 NJCAA community/junior colleges can claim that seven of the 10 athletic teams (70 percent) qualified for NJCAA Academic Team of the Year by earning at least a 3.0 average team grade point average,” said Dr. Stewart. “Fewer still can boast that five of their teams finished in the Top Five in the nation with two national Academic Teams of the Year – Men’s Tennis and Women’s Tennis. In addition to that, 15 East Central student-athletes were recognized for outstanding individual academic achievement. Those numbers are remarkable when considering the size of our student body and the number of student-athletes enrolled at our college. I want to congratulate and thank our coaches and our student-athletes for their efforts in the classroom this year. They performed the EC Way – Excellence with Class, and I am so proud of each of them!”
Athletic Director Chris Harris said he is “very proud and appreciative” of EC coaches and student-athletes for their performance in the area of scholastic achievement.
“Their accomplishments in the academic arena are outstanding, both as individuals and as a team,” said Harris. “Our coaches are to be commended for their work in this area as they stress academics when we recruit student-athletes to our institution. We would love to win every ball game in which we participate; however, we also want our student-athletes to be positioned when they leave us to be successful in life.”
ECCC’s women’s and men’s tennis teams received the highest honors as each was recognized as 2012-13 NJCAA Academic Team of the Year.
The Lady Warrior tennis team led the nation with a 3.77 grade point average.
Squad members and their respective high schools include Kelsey Tadlock and Haley Chapman, both of Newton County; Amber Pierce and Hannah Smith, both of Leake Academy; Nan Hartness and Hayden Fryery, both of Winston Academy; and Alana Turner, Florence.
Tadlock also received an NJCAA Award for Exemplary Achievement, presented to student athletes who achieve a 3.60 to 3.79 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.
The Warrior tennis squad achieved a 3.76 grade point average to claim the most prestigious national honor.
EC team members and their respective high schools included Blake Cochran and Brandon St. Clair, both of Newton County; Andrew Hanna, Newton County Academy; Chris Mays, Louisville; Hunter Mayo and Josh Peoples, both of Leake Academy; and Lucas Calvert, Neshoba Central.
Cochran and Hanna were also recipients of NJCAA Pinnacle Awards for Academic Excellence, presented to student athletes who achieved a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
Calvert and Mayo received NJCAA Exemplary Achievement awards.
Dianne O’Neill and Kyle Watson served as EC tennis coaches.
The Soccer Warriors finished a close second for NJCAA Academic Men’s Soccer Team of the Year by posting a 3.13 grade point average and missed earning the top honor by two hundredths (.02) of a point.
Team members who received NJCAA Awards for Superior Academic Achievement, presented to student-athletes achieving a 3.80 to 3.99 GPA on a 4.0 scale, were Zack Killion, a product of South Oldham High School in Crestwood, Ky., and Zach McGarr of Leake Academy. Taylor Potter earned a NJCAA Award for Exemplary Achievement (3.60 – 3.79 GPA). Potter is a product of the Mississippi School for Math and Science.
Kenneth Thompson serves as head coach.
The State Champion Diamond Warriors placed third for NJCAA Academic Baseball Team of the Year with a 3.35 grade point average. The recognition marks the fourth consecutive year EC’s baseball team has finished in the top 20 in the nation and second straight year the squad placed in the top three.
Receiving individual honors were Caleb McKee of Neshoba Central, NJCAA Pinnacle Award for Academic Success (4.0 GPA); Ryan Shotts of Louisville, Terrance Steele of Neshoba Central and Kalik May of Northport (Ala.) High School, NJCAA Awards for Superior Academic Achievement (3.80 – 3.99); and Blake Dubuisson of Long Beach and Puerto Rico native Fernando Gonzalez, who received NJCAA Awards for Exemplary Achievement (3.60 – 3.79 GPA).
Neal Holliman serves as Diamond Warrior head coach.
The Lady Warrior soccer team tied for fourth for NJCAA Academic Women’s Soccer Team of the Year honors with a 3.37 grade point average.
Team member Kelsey Tadlock of Newton County received an NJCAA Award for Exemplary Academic Achievement (3.60 – 3.79 GPA).
Since the program’s inception in 2005, the Lady Soccer Warriors have never finished lower than sixth in the nation and earned NJCAA Academic Team of the Year honors on three occasions, most recently in 2011 and 2009.
Kenneth Thompson served as Lady Warrior head coach.
EC’s softball team tied for 12th in the nation by posting a 3.42 grade point average.
Lady Warrior LaJoya Griffin of Philadelphia earned an NJCAA Award for Superior Academic Achievement (3.80 – 3.99 GPA).
Kristin Chaney serves as Lady Diamond Warrior head coach.
EC’s golfers finished tied for 23rd in the nation with a 3.15 grade point average.
Chris Clark serves as Warrior golf coach.
More than 1,600 NJCAA student-athletes met the requirements for individual academic honors, including 169 who earned the Pinnacle Award for Academic Excellence (4.0 GPA). Superior Academic Achievement (3.80 – 3.99 GPA) honors went to 592 student-athletes and more than 900 qualified for Exemplary Academic Achievement (3.60 – 3.79 GPA).
Academic team accolades (3.0-plus team GPA) were earned by more than 500 programs with 24 winning the distinction as the Academic Teams of the Year.
This season, close to 60,000 student-athletes competed in the NJCAA across 3,500 teams in 28 different sports.