On a recent Friday afternoon, about a dozen Columbus North girls basketball player filed into their locker room to try to get in about an hour of studying before the bus left for a road game.
When the team has a combined grade point average approaching 4.0, the “student” part of “student-athlete” isn’t taken lightly.
“We have about an hour, and we can do whatever we want with it,” senior Kat Norman said. “Usually, it’s for homework or whatever we have to get done so we don’t have to do it when we get home.”
When the school year started, returning North varsity and JV players had a combined GPA above 4.0. After a couple of those players did not return to the team, and a few freshmen were added, the combined GPA after the first semester sits at 3.96 for the 17 varsity and JV players.
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Twelve of those 17 have GPAs above 4.0.
“Being a student-athlete, sometimes there’s late nights because you have to get your homework done because you’re a student first before you’re an athlete,” senior point guard Kenzie Patberg said.
Liz Tynan, a three-sport athlete with a 4.06 GPA, and fellow senior Jenna Borger both said getting work done in class and during resource periods is key, especially on game days.
Kelsey Patberg ranks 19th in her class with a 4.16 GPA. She also is the senior class president, which makes for even more of a balancing act.
“It’s mostly about time management,” Kelsey Patberg said. “You have to allot your time to get everything done. Since we have practice after school, you can’t waste your resource that you have during school. I have a planner that helps me, and I write everything down that needs to get done, and I just do it one at a time.”
All seven sophomores have GPAs above 4.0. That includes Sierra Norman, who ranks 11th in her class with a 4.21 GPA.
Sierra Norman, Kat’s sister, also plays softball and hopes to play that sport in college. She said time management and making sure she have everything done when it needs to be done, is important.
“Knowing your schedule helps, too,” Norman said. “Most of the time, we get home (from games) pretty late, and it’s kind of hard to do a lot of our stuff on the bus. We’re tired after practice, but you just have to push through and make sure you get whatever you need done.”
North’s freshman team girls aren’t quite at the academic level of the JV/varsity, but still have a combined GPA pf 3.47. Three of the 12 have better than a 4.0.
The four managers have a combined 3.84 GPA. The combined GPAs are 3.75 for the 29 total players and 3.76 for the 33 players and managers.
“We’re not ever really sitting there worrying about eligibility,” North coach Pat McKee said. “Some coaches are worrying about whether they’re going to have their kids. If I handed this sheet (with the players’ GPAs) to coaches all over, they’d say ‘I’d take that.'”
Kenzie Patberg, Tynan and Kat Norman all are considering continuing their basketball careers at Hanover, but are also considering just being students at a bigger school. Borger and Kelsey Patberg likely will be students-only at Indiana University or another college.
So does being a good student translate over to the basketball court? The Bull Dogs are 16-5 going into the final week of the regular season.
“Every once in awhile, they want to be so perfect and analyze things that it can create a challenge,” McKee said. “But most of the time it’s positive.”
The combined grade point averages of the Columbus North girls basketball team:
JV/varsity players (17 girls): 3.96
Freshman players (12 girls): 3.47
All high school players (29 girls): 3.75
Managers (four girls): 3.84
All players and managers (33 girls): 3.76