The Sandhills Community College court and beach volleyball teams and the women’s golf team have been recognized by the NJCAA as 2022-2023 Academic Teams of the Year.
In the announcement made by the NJCAA in July, Coach Alicia Riggan’s beach and court volleyball teams compiled GPAs of 3.36 and 3.23, respectively. The GPA for Coach Herb Pike’s women’s golf squad was 3.26.
Leading the way individually with 4.0 GPAs are first-team NJCAA All-Americans Emma Brown, beach volleyball, Alon Hanani, basketball and Ava Ray, women’s golf.
Logan Hay of the men’s golf team made the second team with a GPA between 3.8 and 3.99. Third team Academic All-Americans with GPAs between 3.6 and 3.79 are Lannah Huneycutt, Keke Lawrence and Alyssa Maragelis of the beach and court volleyball teams, LeNijel Robinson, basketball and Ben Read, men’s golf.
Sophomores Ava Ray and Hay and Hanani earned the distinction for the second time. Along with Lawrence, Robinson and Read, they also earned All-American honors for their performances in their respective sports. The men’s golf team is led by Coach Gus Ulrich.
“I think a lot of credit should go to our coaches because they emphasize academics along with excellence in their sports,” Athletic Director and Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Apple said. “The things we commit to doing like our study hall program, and the incredible job our athletic liaison Marsha Apke does working with our athletes, really raises the bar as to what they’re capable of doing.
“We had five individuals this year that were academic All-Americans and athletic All-Americans which I think is incredible. You need to give them all of the credit in the world for being superlative in the areas we think are why you are here.”
In addition, the following 24 Flyer athletes with GPAs of 3.0 or higher for the spring/winter semester received Region 10 All-Academic honors: Beach volleyball — Brown, Huneycutt, Lawrence, Maragelis, Anna Ty Ivey, Jalasia Ray, Mackenzie Swett, Rachel Burley, Olivia Barlowe and Britta Martin; Basketball — Hanani, Robinson, Isaiah Nelson, Zac Sledge, Sam Stoltz and Kendall Wooldridge; Men’s golf — Hay, Read, James Baldauf, Noah Maness, Alex Martin, Liam Harris and Supinat Rvjiranan; Women’s golf, Trinity Ahing and Ava Ray.
Athletes also recognized by the college for their spring semester performances in the classroom include: President’s List (4.0 GPA’s) — Brown, Hanani, Hay, Lawrence, Martin and Read. Dean’s list (3.5 or higher) — Ahing, Barlowe, Huneycutt, Maragelis, Jalasia Ray and Swett.
Coach Alicia Riggan’s court volleyball team earned the NJCAA All-American team distinction for the fifth year in a row.
“Getting that Academic All-American recognition as a team is one of our team goals,” she said. “If they are doing what they need to do in the classroom, they get to enjoy what they are doing on the court. It’s something we stress when we are recruiting. It’s not just are you a great player but how well do you do in the classroom. Then we have all these touch points so we can help you. I think that’s just a few of the reasons that separate us from other schools.
“I think one of the best things our athletic department did was add Marsha Apke. In addition to our coaches, it gives them another person they can connect with. It really is like a family.
“When parents and kids come on campus, they’re seeing the whole package. You’re not just an athlete, you’re a student-athlete first. I think that’s something that’s big at Sandhills for athletics in general. We’re going to help them graduate in two years to get on to their next goal, whether it’s going straight into the workforce or playing or being a student at the next level.”
Apple summed it up this way: “We really emphasize two things. We want you to be an athlete, and we want you to be a student. If you concentrate on those two things, Sandhills is going to be a good place for you. You’re going to do well in the classroom, maybe better than you’ve ever done, and you’re going to do well on the athletic field.”
~Written by Sandhills Sentinel contributor C. Bergmann.