by Brad Welborn
The 2018-19 athletic year was one of the best for the Louisiana College Wildcats. New program records in both football and volleyball in the fall, record winning streaks for both men’s basketball and baseball, with increases in the number of all-conference players across the board. It is no coincidence that the success on the fields and courts was a direct result of the best academic year for LC athletics as well.
Louisiana College competes athletically at the NCAA Division III level, a division whose primary focus is the advancement of the athlete’s education. The division minimizes the conflicts between athletics and academics and helps student-athletes progress toward graduation through shorter practice and playing seasons and regional competition that reduces time away from academic studies. Participants are integrated on campus and treated like all other members of the student body, keeping them focused on being a student first.
“The excellent academic achievement of our student-athletes is yet another reminder of the strength of NCAA Division III athletics,” Louisiana College President Dr. Rick Brewer said. “LC’s student-athletes excel on the fields of competition and in their courses of study while growing both intellectually and spiritually. In like manner, our faculty are to be commended for their commitment to scholarship and the development of Christian character reflected in the positive outcomes our students continue to model each year.”
The Athletics Department end of year reports for 2016-2017, 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 confirm the steady increase in the Wildcats cumulative grade point averages each year. They are as follows:
- 2016-2017 – 2.782 cumulative grade point average (all sports) 366 student-athletes
- 2017-2018 – 2.813 cumulative grade point average (all sports) 443 student-athletes
- 2018-2019 – 2.962 cumulative grade point average (all sports) 361 student-athletes.
While win-loss records and statistics gauge the success in competition, it is the grade point average that is the first indicator of classroom excellence. With over 361 student-athletes competing across 15 sports, the Wildcats maintained a 2.96 cumulative GPA for the 2018-19 academic year, with five teams at 3.0 or better for the year.
One of those teams, softball, had 20 players earn National Fastpitch Coaches Association Academic All-American honors this season, putting them in the running for one of the 10 Division III team awards given in October by the NFCA.
“In the life of a student-athlete there is really no bigger award given than one that recognizes accomplishments in the classroom and academically,” LC softball coach Barry Roberts said. “These kids are the epitome of what a STUDENT-Athlete is. They accomplish great things academically and they accomplish great things athletically.
“One of a coaches proudest moments is when their players are recognized nationally for the work they have done. These 20 kids have brought me great pride and have brought our institution great pride in what they have accomplished.”
By far the largest roster on campus, the LC football team also showed their improvements both on the field with their first winning conference mark since 2014 and in the class with three team academic records falling. The men under Coach Justin Charles’ leadership set new records in team GPA during the season and for the year with the most academic all-conference selections they’ve ever had.
Louisiana College had 102 athletes earn Academic All-Conference honors this year, 49 in the fall and 53 in the winter/spring. It was the first time since LC joined the NCAA and ASC in 2000 that they had more than 100 athletes earn the conference’s academic award.
“I am so excited about the academic excellence our student-athletes have accomplished,” Athletic Director Reni Mason said. “I think it is a direct reflection of the type of quality students that our coaches have attracted to Louisiana College. There are so many things that are demanded of student-athletes today, far beyond just practices, travel, workouts, and game days. Kudos to them for their commitment, sacrifice, and stewardship of the gifts they’ve been blessed with.”