Softball Earns Scholar Athlete Awards

Banner Elk, NC--The National Fastpitch Coaches Association honored four of Lees-McRae College's softball players with All-America Scholar-Athlete Awards for the 2006-2007 school year. Those honored with NFCA All-America Awards were Keri Austin (Hudson, NC), Megan Davis (Alexis, NC), Lauren Gisler (Peachtree City, GA) and Melody Jo Williams (Scranton, NC).

Keri Austin, who finished her softball career last year, plans to get a graduate degree in religious studies once she graduates from Lees-McRae this spring. Megan Davis and Lauren Gisler, both sophomores this year, received the coveted award for their academic performance their freshman year setting the stage for a bright future. Melody Jo Williams, who is the current team's only senior, plans to teach and coach upon receiving her degree in the fall of 2008.

The NFCA gives this award annually for college softball players that have a 3.5 grade point average or above for the course of the school year. With academics being a high priority, the Bobcats had a total of ten players earn grade point averages above 3.0 last year and a team average GPA of 3.23 for the year.

"The secret to high team academics," claims Coach Julie Kennedy, "is to recruit bright players who have a history of excelling in the classroom." In addition to recruiting, the team has a mandatory study hall for players whose cumulative GPAs drop below 3.0 throughout the course of the year.

The purpose of encouraging the 3.0 cumulative are to challenge players to reach their academic potential and to provide an academic basis that will open doors in the future. "My hope is that all of our players will have the option to broaden their education upon graduating from Lees-McRae if they choose to do so," said Coach Kennedy. "While students often have a better chance of getting into graduate school with a 3.0 cumulative GPA, they are also viewed as good candidates for jobs of any kind based on their academic performance."

Pictured: Melody Jo Williams