Goshen College has long prided itself in being a strong academic school and the college’s athletic department has added to that. This past fall, 30 Maple Leaf student-athletes were named Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes. This is the most ever in the fall season for Goshen College athletics. In order to qualify to be a Scholar-Athlete, an athlete must be a junior or senior who has earned at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA and completed at least one year for Goshen prior to the season according to acting Athletic Director Josh Gleason. For a total of 30, five members of the men’s cross country team, eight from the women’s cross country team, seven from the men’s soccer team, five from the women’s soccer team, and five student-athletes from the volleyball team received the award. A complete list of names can be found on GoLeafs.net.

Josh Gleason also mentioned that, keeping in mind than only juniors and seniors can be given the award, this recognition greatly represents the athletic department as a whole. “Our goal as an athletic department,” he said, “is to develop student-athletes who strive for excellence in the classroom, in competition, and in the community. The fact that we had 30 earn this recognition this fall – and consistently have averaged around 50 a year for the last five-plus years – is an incredibly positive sign that the efforts of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff are succeeding.” The coaches also echo Gleason’s thinking.

Jim Routhier, GC’s volleyball coach, said, “We always stress ‘academics first’ when we recruit players and in anything we do in our program. We have great girls on the team that are dedicated to their future in their careers as well as their success on the volleyball court. Not only are they good players, they are outstanding students. All of them have their priorities correct.”

Doug Yoder, the cross country coach at GC also stresses priorities to his student-athletes. “We have always stressed to the athletes that they are at Goshen College to get an education first and all the other ‘extras’ like athletics, choir, orchestra, etc. are the bonuses. [We tell them to] take care of the business of academics first. If other things need to be pushed back a bit, then that’s what you do,” Yoder explained.

As mentors to these young men and women, it is vital for coaches to take an active role in their athletes’ life outside of athletics. Coach Jim Routhier said, “It makes me feel very proud of the girls and the program because they are accomplishing what we have said in our program’s philosophy of ‘academics first’. I have a tremendous amount of respect for their outstanding ability to balance their rigorous academic requirements and athletics. They are the example of what a ‘student-athlete’ should be.” As the awards indicate, the student-athletes at Goshen College are on track to becoming successful individuals in the future thanks in part to the guidance of their coaches.