By Jordan Boitnott
Last semester, Youngstown State’s women’s basketball team posted the second-highest team GPA in division 1 at a 3.782. YSU Women’s Basketball Coach John Barnes said he is ecstatic about how his team performed in the classroom during the spring semester.
“My staff’s done a great job making sure they are on task and keeping their assignments getting turned in,” he said. “We have a great academic advisor that works with them closely, but the bottom line comes down to them wanting to work hard and sticking to their work ethic, getting their homework tuned in and study time. Again, [I’m] extremely proud of them.”
Mady Aulbach, a sophomore marketing major, said a few of the girls on the team are tutors through the academic athletic center, so they can really help each other if they need to.
“Within our team, there are so many intelligent girls who really do well in school, that are almost all able to just tutor each other. The athletic academic center, they have specifically athletic tutors,” she said.
Jennifer Wendler, sophomore exercise science major, said grades are something the team focuses on heavily when they are recruiting players out of high school.
“I thought it was a really big point while being recruited, and especially for my major because Youngstown is really good for exercise science going into physical therapy school,” she said. “That was something; I knew what I wanted my major to be when I came on my first tour. They made it a big emphasis for me to talk to that department and just emphasize how good our grades are, and how good the academics are here.”
Even while she was still being recruited, Aulbach said, coaches would check in on her grades and have her provide them with updates.
“They would always ask, ‘How are you doing in school, not basketball, but academically?’ I would always tell them my grades, and they were always expecting them to be higher, as they should be. So, I think they kind of made it known, way before I actually came here, that academics were a big culture here,” she said.
Aulbach said it can be easy to get behind, so you have to figure out how to manage your time quickly.
“With study tables on top of practice, and especially once the season starts, you’re almost forced to learn [time] management. You can’t really procrastinate because you need to get those hours before Friday at 4 p.m.,” she said. “So, knowing that in the back of your head, a practice schedule, and we have a team meal with all these other things, it’s kind of forced to be super responsible your freshman year. Which sets you up for academic success in the following years.”
Wendler said the team’s academic coaches do a great job helping players study and stay focused.
“Everyone on the team is assigned an academic coach. They do a really good job of helping us stay on track. They check in with us each week, so I think that’s been a really big part of it,” she said. “They’ve been keeping us on task, while we keep each other on task, too. I think that is a huge key to our academic success.”
The team will try to keep up the success on the court and in the classroom during the fall semester.