February 15, 2012

Creating a Culture of Academic Success; Santa Clara Women's Basketball

By, Gabe Taylor

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -
Santa Clara's work ethic on the basketball court has translated into success in the classroom. With a team GPA of 3.1, head coach Jennifer Mountain's emphasis on academic prowess continues to pay off, facilitating a culture that has allowed 10 of the team's 16 players to post GPA's above a 3.0.

"That's something we look for when we're recruiting," said Mountain, who is in her fourth season at Santa Clara. "The kids that are excelling in the classroom generally are the kids that excel for me on the floor."

An array of majors, including Business, Biology, Engineering and Anthropology, make up a wide range of areas that comprise the team's academic pursuits.

"I've been very blessed," said Mountain. "I don't have to worry about them going to class, and worry about eligibility issues or anything like that."

But in Mountain's mind, there is always room for improvement.

"We're always trying to beat the cross country team," said Mountain, jokingly, referencing the Broncos cross country runners, who posted a collective GPA above 3.5 during the 2011 fall quarter to pace all SCU programs.

For the women's basketball team, the starting five are leading the way academically. Ashley Armstrong, Meagan Fulps and Ruta Zurauskyte broke the 3.5 marker. All five of the Bronco starters hold GPAs above 3.1.

"The fact that so many of them have been able to compete at such a high level on the court and in the classroom is a testament to their hard work and dedication," said SCU Athletics Academic Support Manager Jason Stock, who has done a remarkable job behind the scenes working with and mentoring the Bronco basketball players academically.

"They're embracing the whole Santa Clara experience," said Mountain.

"There is no doubt that the team's impressive GPA is directly correlated to the emphasis Coach Mountain places on academics," added Stock. "I have enjoyed working with Coach Mountain for the last four years because I know that the well-being of the girls as people and as students is always of the utmost importance. It all starts with recruiting. The entire women's basketball coaching staff does an excellent job of recruiting young women who will represent Santa Clara well both on and off the court."