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Only Bentley Uni­versity in Mass­a­chu­setts received a higher aca­demic success rate than Hillsdale College among all NCAA Division II ath­letic pro­grams. (Ryan Goff | Col­legian)

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.