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    June 19, 2019 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    Student-athletes participating in Liberty University's 41 Club Sports programs achieved the highest levels of academic success in the department's 11-year history during the 2018-19 school year.

    The 643 student-athletes maintained a cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of 3.24, with 88 finishing the school year with GPAs of 4.0 or better.

    In all, 40 of the 41 teams and a total of 420 student-athletes posted cumulative GPAs of 3.0 or higher for the past year.

    "It's the highest we've ever seen, so it's exciting," said Sarah Kelly, Club Sports Director of Academic Advancement. "Our goal is to have everybody at 3.0 or better, and we have seen progress over the years. Teams have changed their culture to reach that mark, getting students on board and coaches supporting the academic platforms that we provide."

    Besides offering a study hall at the LaHaye Ice Center, Kelly and her staff provide academic advising and career counseling, matching student-athletes with mentors and tutors. The staff includes Assistant Director Donna Holland, Compliance Coordinator Emily (Halvorson) Hughes, and Jessica Nelson, a professional advisor from the College for Applied Studies and Academic Success (CASAS).

    The Lady Fames' figure skating team maintained the highest team GPA, 3.55, while the men's wrestling team, which was named NCWA All-Academic Team Champion this spring, has shown the most improvement, raising its team GPA from 2.5 to 3.15 in the past few seasons.

    Kelly said the key to success has been establishing good study habits and time-management skills among incoming freshmen.

    "Over the years, we have been working to help students prioritize their academics alongside their sport," she said. "Our main goal is to empower the students to be responsible for their academics and give them the skills that they need to succeed in all areas. We are approaching it from a holistic perspective, to help provide a foundation of success in students' spiritual development, academics, and on the athletic field."

    Donna Holland advises a student in the study hall.

    They also make coaches aware of the students' schedules and requirements so they can better accommodate them.

    Club Sports student-athletes also thrived outside of the classroom and athletic arenas, contributing a total of 5,220 community outreach hours, including required Christian Community Service (CSER) hours in 2018-19.

    Additionally, the Club Sports program created opportunities for 246 Liberty students, mostly non-athletes, to record 5,480 hours of integration and research service hours over the past year. Participants included those majoring in Athletic Training, Exercise Science, Business, Digital Media, Sport Management, and Public Health, as well as many more academic departments.

    Sarah Kelly (left) oversees a graduate student's studies.

    "Our purpose is to provide real-life, hands-on experience in the career field students are pursuing, integrated with multiple academic departments across campus and utilizing our resources and staff," Club Sports Academic Research Coordinator Jonathan Chung said. "The goal over the years is to see if we can integrate every single department in one aspect or another. We are always looking to grow and expand and to continue to build and strengthen these relationships and do whatever we can to enhance that student learning experience."


    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Graphic by Rylie Rice/Club Sports; Video by Hayden Robertson/Club Sports Video Media Assistant