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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Season of achievement: 12 Panther sport teams finish with a collective GPA above 3.0

Ashley Ford, a sophomore on the women’s volleyball team, stands outside Hughes Stadium at Sacramento City College, Friday March 12, 2021 (photo: Tiffany Madson/[email protected])

As the fall 2020 semester drew to a close, City College athletes finished off a year of remote classes and no athletics.

Mitchell Campbell, dean of athletics, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted student athletes profoundly and in unique ways.

“None of us — coaches, student athletes, myself — have ever had a year in our lives where there wasn’t athletics,” Campbell said. “That can be a real difficult thing for our student athletes who have in particular grown up and been involved in athletics all their lives.”

Despite that challenge, 12 of City College’s 17 athletics teams finished the fall 2020 semester with a collective GPA above 3.0.

The 12 teams include 280 of the 353 student athletes. The overall GPA for all student athletes during the fall 2020 semester was 3.07, according to the Sacramento City College Panthers website. 

“I’m just really proud of how we responded [to the pandemic] and the culture of academic achievement among our student athletes,” said Campbell.

He noted that while athletes’ GPAs have been rising for some time, the fall semester’s GPA is one of the highest collective GPAs student athletes have achieved.

“Our coaches and our staff, to their great credit, put extra emphasis [on] what we could control, which was our performance in the classroom,” Campbell said. “It’s a really great thing to see in terms of how our coaches and staff focused and student athletes went above and beyond.”

Men’s cross country led the rankings with a collective GPA of 3.60, while women’s cross country had the second highest collective GPA at 3.40.

Marisa Avendano, head coach of both women’s cross country and women’s track and field, observed that both of her teams’ GPAs were higher in the fall semester than they were the previous year. The track team has the highest GPA it has had in the 20 years she has been coaching at City College.

“Comparing it to last year, they’ve both improved tremendously,” she said. “Having both teams be above 3.0 is pretty amazing.”

According to Avendano, many of the athletes on her team are busy helping out at home, working and even taking on a second job or extra units during the pandemic.

“I get very inspired by them because of their commitment and just the dedication,” she said. “They have so much going on in their lives, and they keep showing up. They keep showing up with the highs and the lows, and they keep moving forward.”

Laurie Nash, head coach of the women’s volleyball team, agreed with Avendano.

“I believe that most of my athletes, if not all of them, have jobs. Some of them have noted that they’ve taken on more hours working,” Nash said. “Saving that time on the road, saving that time going to campus, I think they’ve been able to adopt more responsibilities.”

Amber Milano, a freshman on the women’s volleyball team, said she has taken on more work responsibilities.

“I have two jobs,” Milano said. “I work at Applebee’s. I picked up three eight-hour shifts there.”

Ashley Ford, a sophomore on the women’s volleyball team, also increased her hours at work and is grateful that her professors have been understanding of her work responsibilities. 

“I started working way more so I can help pay bills because the people I live with are unemployed,” Ford said.

Ford feels the time gained by attending classes remotely because of the pandemic has had a positive impact on her and her academics.

“I actually started doing kind of better because I had time to think about work and schedule and plan things out,” said Ford .

According to Nash, City College typically has strong academic teams. 

“I don’t think it’s unusual for these kids to still have their goals in line, staying on task, getting their Ed Plans that they receive through our academic counselor — they’re all goal driven,” she said. “They want the transcript. I would say the majority of our athletes — probably upwards, you know, 90 to 100% of our athletes — are looking to transfer. They’re trying to do that in two or three years, and COVID just changed the look of their education.”

According to Nash, City College athletes are still very disciplined in the online learning environment, and she and her fellow coaches have been proactive in connecting with athletes and attending to their needs.

“As role models, as coaches, athletically as well as academically, we’re trying to be a great support staff for them, reminding them to use their resources that are available to them, even though it’s through online learning, online support,” Nash said.

Savannah Wells, a freshman on the women’s track team, gives her coaches credit for athletes’ academic success.

“The coaches are amazing,” Wells said. “They help us out. They’re all about self-care and motivation.”

Savannah Wells, a freshman on the women’s track team, stands outside Hughes Stadium at Sacramento City College, Friday March 12, 2021 (photo: Tiffany Madson/[email protected])
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Milano also is very grateful for the coaches’ help and dedication to staying connected.

“We do a team Zoom every week and that’s been helping. Staying social with people on the team and keeping the team aspect — yeah, I think that’s most important,” Milano said.

Nash, too, highlighted the importance togetherness has had on team morale and team academics.

“Even though this is really cruddy for our student athletes not having a season,” Nash said. “I think we’ve had some good quality time to improvise, to be able to focus on some other things that we maybe wouldn’t be able to focus on if we were in the gym.”

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