Thanks to the academic excellence of the Charger athletes, Hillsdale College earned the NCAA President’s Award with an academic success rate score of 97. This is the fourth consecutive year the college has earned this award.
The rate by which Division II student athletes graduate within six years determines the school’s academic success rate. At a place such as Hillsdale, the challenge of achieving both academic and athletic success can be even more intense.
“The reason our academic success rate is high is because our coaches and our admission department and our faculty, who recruit students, all do an excellent job of describing the Hillsdale experience to recruits,” Director of Athletics Don Brubacher said. “That of course will attract students who really want this challenge.”
Brubacher also said that when he interacts with recruits of all sports who are considering attending Hillsdale, he makes clear the challenges of being both an athlete and student at Hillsdale.
“If that’s something that’s exciting to you, then this is the place to be,” Brubacher said. “If that’s not what you want, then this isn’t the place for you.”
Head coach of the women’s tennis team and Senior Women’s Administrator Nicole Walbright said that every year she meets with her team to set both academic and athletic goals.
“Our goals are very important to us and we talk frequently each week about meeting them,” Walbright said. “Academics come first, so when school gets tough we adjust practice time to ensure everyone has the best possible set-up to succeed.”
Brubacher also talked about prioritizing academics over athletics, especially in each coach’s approach.
“Every one of our coaches honestly promotes the notion that academics are the highest priority for our students here,” Brubacher said. “Coaches have a variety of different approaches to help achieve academic excellence with study tables, tutoring programs, and other efforts to help students achieve on the highest possible level.”
Walbright finds that her athletes “do an excellent job managing their time.” In order to ease the stress, she tries to give each student athlete the full season calendar, but also does weekly grade reports and check-ins to make sure work is being completed.
“The goal of the department always centers around academic success for our athletes,” Walbright said. “We try as hard as possible to minimize missed class time and set up an environment to promote doing well in the classroom.”
Senior Sutton Dunwoodie, a member of the golf team, said he’s been able to balance his time without sacrificing either of his obligations as an athlete and a student. Like so many student athletes at Hillsdale, succeeding both academically and athletically has been a manageable task.
“I’ve never felt like I didn’t have enough hours in the day to do both,” Dunwoodie said. “Sometimes I can’t do the other fun stuff I want to do, but I love golf so it all kind of balances out.”
According to Dunwoodie, his coaches have done a good job prioritizing the team’s improvement in all areas of life.
“The coaches prioritize our success in life,” Dunwoodie said. “Their ultimate goal is to have us graduate as better men than we were when we arrived.”
Whether it’s going to class or winning the G‑MAC, the student athletes at Hillsdale have shown a consistent commitment to excellence. And after receiving the President’s Cup for the fourth consecutive year, they don’t appear to be slowing down.