Too often in sports, the only numbers we pay attention to fall under the columns marked “wins” and “losses.”
That’s only natural. Those numbers are important. Otherwise, we wouldn’t bother keeping score. This is, for better or worse, the nature of a competitive society.
Still, there are other numbers that are also important, but often overlooked, especially when it comes to high school and college athletics.
Those numbers come under the heading marked “grade-point average.”
In the long run, the wins and losses may not matter a whole lot when our student-athletes enter the real world. The GPA, however, could make the difference between landing that all-important first job or living in mom and dad’s basement, playing video games.
That’s why some news that emerged here in York County over the past week was so encouraging.
York College honored once more: First, on June 26, the Capital Athletic Conference announced its All-Academic honors. To earn the recognition, a student-athlete had to participate in one or more CAC sports and attain a cumulative 3.20 GPA.
York College again led the CAC, placing 278 student-athletes on the squad, a whopping 74 more than Salisbury and Christopher Newport, who tied for second at 204.
Maybe even more impressive, 67.5% of York’s student-athletes earned the recognition. St. Mary’s was second at 57.1%, more than 10 percentage points behind York.
York also topped last year’s school record of 261 student-athletes on the All-Academic list. In fact, York has led the CAC All-Academic list 10 times over the last 13 years, including the last four years.
The Spartans' athletes, quite simply, have become an academic juggernaut in the CAC.
The York student-athletes, however, weren’t just a bunch of nerds who couldn’t hang with the elite athletic schools in the CAC. York’s academic success was also mirrored by athletic success. In the 2018-2019 academic year, the Spartans won five CAC championships, and four of their teams earned NCAA Division III playoff berths.
Mooradian recognized again: Just a day after York College athletics received the good news about its academic achievements, a former York County standout earned one of the nation’s most prestigious athletic/academic awards.
South Western High School graduate Lynne Mooradian, a junior at Army West Point, was among the 30 student-athletes named to the 2019 Google Cloud Academic All-America® Division I Cross Country/Track & Field First Team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
It marked the second straight year the former Mustang earned the honor. The Hanover native had earlier claimed the Patriot League Scholar Athlete of the Year award for both the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons in 2019.
Mooradian, who is also the Army record holder in the indoor 60-meter hurdles and outdoor 100 hurdles, carries a 4.21 GPA and majors in mechanical engineering.
Just think about that for a moment. Just surviving the rigorous West Point curriculum is an achievement in itself. Mooradian, however, is not just surviving, she’s thriving, excelling both on the track and in the classroom at an exceptional level.
Her head coach at Army, Mike Smith, might have put it best when he said: “She is brilliant in every way that you could imagine. … She is a remarkable young woman."
Yes, “brilliant” and “remarkable” are appropriate words to describe Mooradian’s accomplishments. They also apply, however, to the academic achievements of York College’s student-athletes.
Exploits such as those should not be allowed to pass without recognition. They prove that "student" and "athlete" don't have to be a contradiction in terms.
After all, we call them student-athletes, not athlete-students. Getting a good education should be the primary reason for attending college, even for those participating in sports.
Yes, the numbers under “wins” and “losses” are still important.
The number under “GPA” heading, however, will have a more lasting impact on the lives of the student-athletes.
— Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.