Playing smartball

by Beacon Staff • November 2, 2005

The women's softball team recently defied the "dumb jock" stereotype and was recognized for its academic achievement. The 2005 squad is one of the best at Emerson College and in the Great Northeast Atlantic Conference (GNAC), both on the field and in the classroom.

Not only did the softball team finish with a 27-13 record, but it also ranked 14th in best cumulative grade point averages (GPAs) nationwide among Division III schools. Compiled by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, the Lions' collective 3.357 cumulative GPA ranks 39th in the nation among all divisions in the NCAA.

During the 2005 season, the team qualified for the New England Division III playoffs, but lost in a 1-0 decision to Smith College last May. Smith ranked 12th in the academic ratings with a 3.375 cumulative GPA.

Emerson Head Coach Phil McElroy said he felt honored with this achievement on behalf of his team, although he said he was not shocked at the ranking. McElroy said he has never had a problem with his players performing academically as well as athletically.

"It's not just one kid," McElroy said. "It's the whole group of them. It shows the [Athletic Department and the college] that we're not just athletes. We're student athletes."

McElroy said the team's ranking is special because of the time commitment athletes make each season.

"I am extremely proud of the team overall and I know the demands placed on a student athlete at Emerson," McElroy said. "Time is limited, especially during the spring, and I ask a lot of them. For them to excel in so many categories shows their true dedication and commitment level."

The minimum GPA requirement for athletes to compete at Emerson is a 1.7 for freshmen and a 2.0 for sophomores, juniors and seniors. The NCAA requirements are similar, requiring junior and senior players to maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA.

To complement the team's achievement, recent Emerson graduate, 2005 first baseman Ellen Boss, and current junior catcher Jen Boyden were both selected to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District softball team for the Spring 2005 season.

Boss was selected to the All American First Team in the College Division, District I. Boyden was selected to the second team. Although Boss graduated, Boyden will be returning to Emerson as catcher for the 2006 season.

Emerson was one of two GNAC teams to make the academic achievement list, with Emmanuel College placing 40th with a 3.22 cumulative GPA.

"Sometimes people perceive athletes as dumb jocks," McElroy said. "It just kind of proves [students] can get a great education at a school like this as well as be a great athlete."

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