With the countless hours of training, weekends spent traveling and evenings taken up with second practices, it might seem like a difficult task to balance classes while also balancing a sport. With the commencement of the 2017 gymnastics season, six Seawolves stood out for their impressive grades.
For the 2017 gymnastics season, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation executive director, Al Beaird, announced the final MPSF All-Academic Scholar-Athletes.
The list consisted of 35 gymnasts from six different schools including the Air Force Academy, Sacramento State, San Jose State, Seattle Pacific and UC Davis, in addition to UAA.
Not only did six UAA gymnasts make the list, junior Madeleine Arbuckle had the second highest GPA overall at 3.91, up from fourth highest in 2016 having a 3.92. Arbuckle only followed the top GPA athlete from Seattle Pacific by 0.01 grade points.
Arbuckle is in her junior year at UAA studying environmental sciences. She just completed her third season in gymnastics as an all-arounder.
“I chose this degree because I am interested in attending law school to practice environmental law. I figured having a background in environmental issues and policies would be helpful for me before diving into law school,” Arbuckle said.
With such a rigorous degree and courses, balancing life with school might seem like a daunting task, but Arbuckle has spent most of her life doing just that.
“I have always been used to balancing school and athletics. By grade three, I was training 20 hours a week, and in grade six, I had to start leaving school early to go to practice. At this point, I think it would be weird to not have a full schedule and constantly have to prioritize things,” Arbuckle said.
Arbuckle has found that pre-season is often the most time consuming with rigorous training schedules. Luckily, the gymnasts finish their competition season in mid-march to have the remainder of the semester to focus on school.
Joining Arbuckle on the All-Academic standing is junior Morgan Ross, who made it to the top 10, with the sixth highest overall GPA at 3.75.
On top of Division I gymnastics training, Ross is pursuing two separate degrees: a B.A. in Spanish and a B.S. in environmental science.
“I am an avid outdoor lover and I took AP Environmental Science in high school and loved it. I decided on Spanish because I grew up with Spanish speaking neighbors and I realized how valuable it is to know another language,” Ross said.
Ross explained that the team manages by having mandatory study hall sessions on the road. During the season, as well as off-season, the gymnastics team implemented a GPA rule to help everyone succeed.
“Our team rules state that if an individual does not receive a 3.3 GPA or higher each semester, they have to do nine hours of study hall per week,” Ross said.
Evidently, the rule seemed to help the team as a whole.
For a third consecutive time, senior Nicole Larkin achieved the honors with her GPA of 3.48. Larkin is studying to get her degree in biological sciences. Sophomore Kaylin Mancari made the list for her first year of eligibility for the academic team. Mancari is studying natural sciences and holds a GPA of 3.44.
The fifth gymnast to earn the MPSF title is junior Kendra Daniels. With her major in technology, Daniels holds a GPA of 3.42. Senior Brice Mizell rounds off the end of the list. Mizell is studying nursing and sociology and made the list with her GPA of 3.35.
To be eligible for this award, the student-athlete must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better, as well as having sophomore standing, completed a full academic year prior to receiving the award and competed in 50 or more percent of the athletic season.