Coach pushes for academic excellence

Head coach Krista Gerlich watches from the sidelines as her team runs through drills during the first practice of the season Oct. 5 inside the College Park Center. (The Shorthorn: File photo)

The women’s basketball team is holding itself to a higher standard both in the classroom and on the court this season. The players hope to be able to maintain their grades and be more successful in the game.

Sophomore forward Allyson Te’o said head coach Krista Gerlich has set high academic standards for the players.

“She wants our team GPA to be a 3.4,” Te’o said. “We made a huge leap from last year to this year, and we’re just going to keep going forward.”

This is Gerlich’s second year with the team, and she said she made study hall mandatory as part of an education initiative.

“I think that what we’re trying to do is to rebuild this program and to make them be successful in every aspect,” Gerlich said. “The first thing that we did was attack the classroom because, obviously, that’s why they’re here and that’s the most important. That’s our priority.”

Senior guard Tahlia Pope said the number of study hall hours players have to put in depends on their GPA.

“If you have a high GPA like a 3.5 to a 4.0, you don’t have to do outside study hall because clearly you’re taking care of business,” Pope said. “But as your GPA goes down, the more hours each week you have to get.”

Gerlich said she is ensuring the team is better academically and athletically by making sure the team is made up of players who are talented in both areas.

“The second thing we did was we started recruiting and really tried to recruit high quality students and players,” Gerlich said. “Now, hopefully, that starts resonating into wins on the court as well, but, I mean, I was an all-academic player and we won a lot on the court.”

As the season starts, Pope said the players will face challenges to succeed academically and athletically.

“Maintaining your study focus will be a challenge,” Pope said. “Just making sure that you know when your tests are about to come and make sure they don’t conflict with basketball.”

Te’o said finding the time to study is something the team doesn’t have trouble with because of Gerlich’s initiatives. The players have access to the College Park Center’s academic center, which has computers, study rooms and tutors, Pope said.

Gerlich said the team’s academic efforts last year have been recognized with the Sun Belt Conference academic achievement award and in the Mavs Champs Challenge. Gerlich said she hopes this success brings the team hope that they can grow into better players as well.

“I’m a strong believer in whatever you’re doing – be the best,” Gerlich said. “We want to be the best on the court and off.”


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