Western Nebraska Community College had five teams honored with NJCAA Academic Team honorable mention status earlier this week when the NJCAA released its team academic honors.
Softball, volleyball, women's basketball, baseball, and men's basketball all received recognition on the list, where 740 NJCAA teams earned at least a 3.0 GPA or higher.
The Cougar softball team had the highest GPA among WNCC teams, registering a 3.27 grade point average, just nudging past the Cougar volleyball team's 3.24 GPA.
WNCC softball coach Katelyn Groves is very proud of what her team did last year in the classroom.
"To see our team make the NJCAA academic team makes me extremely proud," she said. "As a program, we stress academics and being students first is a priority; to see our team be recognized for their determination and hard work in the classroom is a testament to what our program and institution is about."
The Cougar softball team, earlier this summer, had three players earn NJCAA Academic All-American and seven players earn Region IX Academic All-American. Earning NJCAA academic honors were Celyn Whitt, Julia Suchan, and Emily Selby. Region IX academic honors went to Whitt, Suchan, Selby, Lauren Oxford, Ashley Thomas, Alyssa Guymon, and Jasmine Wessel.
Groves said the achievements of the players in the classroom go to the institution as a whole.
"Having an atmosphere in which, not only our student-athletes but our students in general are invested in by the faculty and staff is a huge part of that success," Groves said. "We, as a program, are truly thankful for the professors, tutors and staff members that take the time to truly care about our successes on and off the field. I'm beyond proud of Team 17 [2016-17 Cougar softball team] and their accomplishments this year."
The Cougar softball team was one of just four Region IX softball teams that earned academic team honors. Lincoln College had the highest GPA among softball teams with a 3.74. Other Region IX schools included Trinidad State with a 3.32, Northeastern Junior College at 3.20, and Central Community College-Columbus at 3.16.
The Cougar volleyball team, which finished eighth at the national tournament last November finished with a 3.24 GPA. North Platte Community College led all Division I and II volleyball programs with a 3.86 GPA.
All-in-all, there were 11 Region IX volleyball programs that earned NJCAA Academic All-American status. Other Region IX schools earning academic team honors include Northwest (3.68), Central Wyoming (3.42), NJC (3.33), EWC (3.28), Casper (3.26), Sheridan (3.26), Laramie County (3.24, Southeast (3.05), and Otero (3.01).
The Cougar women's basketball team, who won the Region IX tournament last March, finished the year with a 3.10 GPA. Northern Oklahoma College-Enid had the highest GPA among women's basketball teams with a 3.68 average.
WNCC was just one of eight Region IX schools that earned recognition. Central Wyoming led all Region IX schools with a 3.62 average. Other regional teams on the list include Miles (3.59), Casper (3.55), Northwest (3.52), Trinidad (3.52), Western Wyoming (3.41), and Otero (3.10).
The Cougar baseball, who won the Empire Conference league title last May, had the highest GPA among WNCC male sports. Daytona Community College had the highest GPA among baseball teams with a 3.70 average.
The Cougars finished with a 3.06 GPA just percentage points from the highest GPA among Region IX Schools. Trinidad State posted a 3.08 average to lead Region IX followed by Southeast (3.07), and then WNCC. Otero rounded out Region IX with a 3.01 GPA.
The WNCC men's basketball team also earned academic honors. The Cougars finished with a 3.02 grade point average. Southeast Mississippi Community College had the highest GPA among men's basketball with a 3.59 average.
Five Region IX schools made the list. Southeast Community College led the Region IX schools with a 3.46 followed by Central Wyoming (3.18), Northwest (3.15), and Trinidad State (3.08).
` The women's golf team from Daytona College had the highest GPA among all junior colleges with a 3.89 average.
The complete list of NJCAA Academic Teams and honorable mention teams can be seen at http://njcaa.org/genrel/2016-17/releases/07-10-17_Academic_Teams_of_the_Year