By, Carolyn Linck, '11
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Student-athletes at Santa Clara University have a reputation for excellence on and off the playing field, but one group in particular has truly raised the bar in academics: the Bronco women's basketball team.
With a collective GPA over 3.3, it's clear that the women of SCU basketball are focused and determined in their academic pursuits and with finals in full swing this week, we wanted to know just how they do it.
"We really try to focus on academics throughout the recruiting process," explained third-year SCU women's basketball head coach Jennifer Mountain. "Santa Clara, as an institution, has such high academic standards that it requires us to recruit a certain type of kid. It's definitely nice that we don't have to worry about GPA issues because we have naturally gifted students who take the classroom, and their responsibilities as students seriously."
Indeed, for many members of the women's basketball team, academics played a large role in their decision to come to SCU.
"Academics were a huge part of my decision," said junior Alyssa Shoji, who was named to the West Coast Conference All-Academic Team last season. "I love basketball, but I needed to make sure the school was a good fit for me as well. That's a big reason why I chose Santa Clara. It was obvious I couldn't pass up the opportunity of having an SCU education."
The emphasis on education doesn't end with the recruitment process, however. Santa Clara athletics fosters academic achievement for all of their student-athletes in a variety of ways.
"Our student-athletes have a lot of great resources available to them," explained Jason Stock, Academic Support Manager for men's and women's basketball. "Academic support could range anywhere from advising, to helping set them up with tutors, advocating for them with professors, or helping them make that transition to being a Division I student-athlete freshman year.
"We provide them with the necessary tools to succeed off the court, and both men's and women's basketball have performed very well in the classroom."
Sophomore Ashley Armstrong, who has a 3.98 GPA, is a member of the University Honors Program, and is hoping to one day receive a Rhodes Scholarship. She credits the coaching staff and athletic department for creating an environment that promotes academic excellence.
"Our coaches really push to be the best we can be on the court, in school, and in the community," said Armstrong. "The mentality of our team to put our all into everything we do definitely correlates to our academic success."
Coach Mountain acknowledges the difficulties associated with being a student-athlete: "We ask a lot of these girls. Traveling, class, and practice take up the majority of their time. They don't get to have a normal college life, but we encourage them to do as well as possible with the promise that it will pay off for them once they graduate."
Indeed, balancing basketball and school is not always easy. The players will tell you that time management and self discipline are the keys.
"It can be stressful," said Armstrong. "But we help each other out, especially when we're on the road. Our team is very willing to look over papers and quiz each other for an upcoming test. We are especially proactive when someone has a group project. We've all participated in numerous videos, surveys, and interviews for one another."
Stock identifies the SCU professors as another key to the team's outstanding academic accomplishments.
"We have great faculty here who are very understanding of the demands of student-athletes. They are always willing to work with our students to ensure that they can balance their schoolwork during the season – whether this means checking in via email, getting assignments done ahead of time, having a classmate take notes, or meeting individually."
Shoji echoed Stock's comments, saying, "Luckily here at Santa Clara we have amazing professors who understand our schedules and don't allow us to fall behind. It can be a lot of work, but it's worth it when you get to play the sport you love."
Indeed, with sacrifice and dedication, the women's basketball team has been able to take full advantage of their opportunities at Santa Clara as both students and athletes.
"Yeah, it's stressful and time consuming," said Armstrong. "But I think being a D-I student-athlete at SCU is one of the most rewarding experiences ever."
April 28, 2011 Five SCU Basketball Players Earn WCC Scholar-Athlete Honors
April 4, 2011 SCU Women's Basketball: 2010-11 Season in Review
March 21, 2011 2011 Santa Clara Women's Basketball Golf Tournament
March 17, 2011 SCU Women's Basketball Thanks Its 2010-11 Fans!
March 5, 2011 Portland Stops Santa Clara Women at WCC’s
March 1, 2011 Gipson, Radanovich, Fulps Earn All-WCC Honors
March 1, 2011 Bronco Women Open WCC Tournament Friday at 12 noon
February 28, 2011 On the Court with Women’s Basketball Assistant Tamara Inoue
February 26, 2011 Seniors Lead Santa Clara in Malibu, Broncos to Play Dons at WCC’s
February 25, 2011 Santa Clara Women Overtake LMU, 56-49
February 22, 2011 SCU Women Head to Los Angeles, Play at LMU and Pepperdine
February 22, 2011 Alyssa Shoji Talks About Season, Upcoming WCC Tournament
February 19, 2011 Broncos Celebrate Senior Night in Style, Beat Pilots 77-55
February 17, 2011 No. 25 Zags Surge Past Bronco Women
February 16, 2011 Senior Night, ‘Pink Zone’ This Week in SCU Women’s Hoops
February 12, 2011 Slow Start Dooms Santa Clara in Loss to USD
February 11, 2011 Gaels Outlast Broncos in Tight Game at McKeon Pavilion
February 9, 2011 ‘Big Games’ On Tap for Santa Clara Women’s Basketball
February 9, 2011 Bronco Women's Basketball to Host FREE Clinic Friday, Feb. 18
February 7, 2011 Lena Gipson Named the WCC Player of the Week
February 5, 2011 Santa Clara Women Drop Dons, Improve to 4-4 in WCC
February 2, 2011 Bronco Women Face Dons Saturday at Leavey Center
January 29, 2011 Santa Clara Rallies for WCC Win, Beating LMU 77-73
January 28, 2011 Pepperdine Women Win at Santa Clara, 69-49
January 26, 2011 Bronco Women Host Waves, Lions This Week
January 25, 2011 ‘Go Green,’ Recycle with SCU Basketball Thursday Night
January 22, 2011 Pilots Escape with Home Win Over Broncos
January 20, 2011 Bronco Women Fall to Zags, Play at Portland Saturday
January 17, 2011 Road Games at GU, Portland Next for Women's Hoops
January 15, 2011 Late 3s Sting Santa Clara in Loss to SMC
January 14, 2011 Streaking Broncos Deny Toreros, 62-57
January 11, 2011 WHITE OUT, Alumni Reunion Part of WCC Home-Opening Weekend
January 8, 2011 Santa Clara Routs USF to Win Third Straight
January 4, 2011 The Art of Rebounding: SCU’s Lena Gipson Ranks No. 10 Nationally
January 2, 2011 Santa Clara Overcomes Slow Start to Beat Rival SJSU
January 1, 2011 City Rivalry Game SCU-SJSU Women Sunday at 2 p.m.
December 30, 2010 Fulps, Shoji Lead Santa Clara to Overtime Win at Cal Poly
December 28, 2010 Santa Clara Suffers Road Loss at UC Davis
December 24, 2010 Top Teams in Big West Next for Bronco Women
December 22, 2010 Oregon Women Too Much for Santa Clara
December 20, 2010 Santa Clara's Lena Gipson Named WCC Player of the Week
December 19, 2010 Santa Clara Wins Again, Tops Seattle 63-60
December 18, 2010 Santa Clara Women to Host Seattle U, Oregon
December 17, 2010 Lena Gipson Leads Santa Clara Women Past Pacific
December 13, 2010 Broncos Fall to Thunderbirds in Cedar City, 80-67
December 8, 2010 SCU Travels to Cedar City, Will Play Southern Utah Monday
December 7, 2010 Women's Basketball Shines During Academic Finals
December 5, 2010 High-Octane Hornets Top Broncos 78-65
December 5, 2010 BAWSI Night Will Bring Big Crowd to Leavey Center Sunday
December 2, 2010 Hot Shooting Puts Wichita State Past Santa Clara
November 30, 2010 South Dakota Surges Past SCU at the DakotaDome
November 29, 2010 SCU in Snowy South Dakota, Will Play Coyotes and Shockers
November 24, 2010 CSU Bakersfield Outlasts Santa Clara, 66-53
November 23, 2010 Video Feature on Santa Clara's Lena Gipson
November 22, 2010 ‘Runners Offer Tough Test for Santa Clara Tuesday Night
November 21, 2010 ESPN Ranks Bronco Recruiting Class Among Nation’s Best
November 19, 2010 VIDEO: Broncos Working Hard During Extended Road Trip
November 19, 2010 Santa Clara To Webcast Men’s & Women’s Basketball Games For Free
November 19, 2010 Colorado Defeats Santa Clara in Boulder, 71-57
November 17, 2010 Northern Colorado Holds Off Santa Clara Women, 65-57
November 16, 2010 SCU Women Travel to Colorado, Face Bears and Buffs
November 12, 2010 Women's Basketball Falls to Fresno State 74-54
November 10, 2010 Women's Basketball Announces 2011 Signees
November 9, 2010 Women's Basketball Defeats Sonoma State in Exhibition Play
November 8, 2010 Santa Clara Women's Basketball Opens Season This Week
November 5, 2010 Impact Player: Lindsay Leo Debuts for Santa Clara Tuesday
November 1, 2010 VIDEO: SCU Women's Basketball 'Be Part of it!'
October 27, 2010 Lena Gipson Named Among WCC's Best Players
October 8, 2010 Broncos Getting a Jump on Fall Practice, Open Season Nov. 12
August 18, 2010 SCU Women's Basketball 2010-11 Schedule Announced
August 17, 2010 A Quick Conversation with SCUs Becca Thomas
August 3, 2010 SCU Bronco Season Tickets On Sale Now!
July 29, 2010 Santa Claras Newest Basketball Players Arrive on Campus
June 15, 2010 SCU Girls Basketball Camp Fast Approaching