UVU volleyball: team earns AVCA Team Academic Award

By James Warnick

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, July 20 2012 12:31 p.m. MDT

The 2011-12 UVU women's volleyball team.

Kelly Linde, UVU Athletics

Enlarge photo»

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) announced Friday 102 NCAA Division I teams have earned the AVCA Team Academic Award for the 2011-2012 season, and the Utah Valley University women's volleyball team is one of them.

Coach Sam Atoa's Wolverines succeeded in the classroom this past year, as they combined for a 3.30 team GPA, and also on the court where they won their first Great West Conference Championship and broke a school record for wins in a season at the Division I level with 23.

Of the 15 student-athletes who competed on the Wolverines roster in 2011-12, seven of them were also named to the GWC Academic All-Conference Team. As Rachel Anderson, Sarah Clement, Chelsey Heaps, Erica Nish and the newly married Brookelyn Hall (previously Cambpell), Patti Hatch (previously Flagg) and Lindsay Morrell (previously Barker) all made it.

In all, 533 institutions made the cut for the AVCA recognition, which once again breaks the previous year's total of 481 and sets a new all-time high for the award.

The award, which was initiated in the 1992-93 academic year, honors collegiate and high school volleyball teams that displayed excellence in the classroom during the school year by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average on a 4.0 scale or a 4.10 cumulative team GPA on a 5.0 scale.

"Many coaches tell us they take more pride in and hear more positive feedback about winning the AVCA Team Academic Award than anything else they do all year," said AVCA Executive Director Kathy DeBoer. "While it is undeniable that the sport we coach is zero-sum on the scoreboard, it is a tool for empowerment on other fronts. The 533 coaches whose teams won this academic award understand the value of both playing to win and winning through play. A well-deserved congratulations to each team and coach."

The Team Academic Award has become one of the AVCA's fastest growing awards programs, seeing an impressive surge in teams honored over the past several years. Since the 2000-2001 season, the number of recipients has increased every single year but one, while amassing an overall 200% increase over the span of the last decade. Since the award's inception in 1993, the award has risen by an astounding 760%. NCAA Division I recorded their highest-ever total number of recipients, honoring 102 programs, while Division III easily surpassed last year's record of 57 winners with 67 this year. Division III also set a new record with 90 winners, and the high school division increased their all-time high of 192 recipients to 220. Finally, the NCAA men broke new ground landing a record seven schools on this year's AVCA Team Academic Award list.

Prior to 2011-12, only 13 teams had attained the pinnacle of volleyball success in both earning the AVCA Team Academic Award and winning their respective collegiate national championship in the same academic year. This year, the AVCA is proud to recognize three programs -- Concordia University-St. Paul (NCAA Division II), Cowley College (NJCAA Division II) and Clearwater Christian College (NCCAA Division II) - all three excelled in the classroom and on the court.

Over 1,000 different schools have earned the award in the program's 20-year history, with exactly 4,827 awards been given out in total. Only two institutions, both high schools, have earned the distinction all 20 years: Jonesboro High School (Jonesboro, Arkansas) and Ross S. Sterling High School (Baytown, Texas).

BREAKDOWN BY CLASSIFICATION

Division, Number of recipients, Percent Breakdown*

NCAA Division I Women, 102, 19.14%

NCAA Division II Women, 67, 12.57%

NCAA Division III Women, 90, 16.89%

NAIA Women, 33, 6.19%

Two-Year College Women, 13, 2.44%

NCCAA Women, 1, 0.19%

NCAA Collegiate Men, 7, 1.31%

High School (Girls and Boys), 220, 41.28%

High School Girls, 198

High School Boys, 22

*Percentage is based on each category's breakdown of the total 2011-2012 Team Academic recipients.

To view the total recipient list, click HERE.

James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com

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