By Rachael Bentley
If one were to walk into the Academic Center for Student Athletes in the library on a Monday morning, they might be surprised to find that all of the seats in the study hall were filled.
Student Athletes are required to attend a certain amount of study hall hours each week. Each team has their own academic advisor, and athletes are provided with tutors for all subjects.
It’s policies and services like this that helped the CCSU Volleyball team win the American Volleyball Coaches academic award.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them, not only for this current team, but for all the teams these past six years,” Volleyball Coach Linda Sagnelli said. “When they won this six years ago it was very difficult, but they have managed to keep the tradition alive.”
The volleyball team is the only Connecticut state school team to receive this award. Other recipients include schools such as Brown, Harvard, Marist, Yale and Stanford University.
CCSU is one of 536 volleyball teams to achieve the award for the 2011-2012 seasons, according to the AVCA website. This year the AVCA broke the record with 536 teams being honored for academic excellence. The previous mark was in 2010-2012, with 481 school teams achieved the awards.
The award, which was initiated in the 1992-93 academic year, honors collegiate and high school volleyball teams that display excellence in the classroom during the school year by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade point average on a 4.0 scale.
“While it is undeniable that the sport we coach is zero-sum on the scoreboard, it is a tool for empowerment on other fronts,” said AVCA Executive Director Kathy DeBoer. “The coaches whose teams won this academic award understand the value of both playing to win and winning through play. A well-deserved congratulations to each team and coach.”
The NCAA Division I teams make up 19.14 percent of the recipients of the awards with 103 teams to win the award.
Sagnelli credits some of the success of her team to the services provided by Kevin Oliva, Director of ACSA and the team’s personal academic advisor.
“Kevin does a wonderful job of creating an environment in the academic center which promotes learning, and the athletes that are either freshman or incoming transfers are required to do a certain amount of hours each week down in the academic center,” said Sagnelli.
“When we travel we give the athletes the option to do study halls, and those hours can also count towards the requirement,” Sagnelli continued.
But despite all of the excellent services offered to the athletes, Sagnelli said that in the end it all comes down to the student’s initiative.
“I think the support services are phenomenal. Each team has their own academic advisor but the bottom line is that it all comes down to the student athletes,” said Sagnelli. “They have a great work ethic in the classroom and I think it shows. They set the bar really high for themselves and they work really hard to achieve success in the classroom.”