On Monday, junior midfielder Bret Dietz of the men’s soccer team earned 2009 Co-SIDA/ESPN The Magazine All-Academic District 1 first team honors for his strong work in the classroom and on the pitch for the second straight season. He is now eligible for Academic All-American honors, which will be awarded later in the month. Last season, Mark Carson of the men’s basketball team, track and field standouts Mike Hardbarger, Brecht Moulin, and Matt Joseph, along with wrestlers Luke Baum, and Jason Wake, earned Academic All-American accolades. A host of other Tiger student-athletes, including Emily Traversi of women’s soccer, and Carlissa Cole of women’s softball, also earned Academic All-District honors last season.
Much is made of RIT’s strong accomplishments on the field, but maybe more should be said about how our student-athletes perform off the field. During the 2008-09 season, a record 647 student-athletes were involved in RIT’s 24-sport athletic program. The students combined to record a 3.16 grade-point average in 2008-09, exceeding the university average of 3.05. A handful of teams had GPAs over 3.4. Last year, the women’s swimming and diving team had the highest team GPA among athletics teams, at 3.45.
Lou Spiotti Jr., Director for the Center of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation, believes that the student-athletes remarkable cumulative GPA is a testament to their hard work and dedication to not only the playing field, but the classroom as well.
“The RIT student-athletes epitomize the Greek ideal of ‘Sound body, sound mind,’” said Spiotti. “The discipline and the work ethic required to succeed in athletics are transferable skills. What I mean by this is that athletes succeed in many aspects of their lives because they understand and embrace the world of competition and achievement both on the field of play and in the classroom. They push themselves to reach for higher levels of success. I believe that for them to be as good as they have demonstrated, it takes focus, discipline, goal setting, good health and stamina, and excellent time management skills.”
Spiotti added: “All these things and more not only help them to progress through their college years, but also to excel. Thus, we have our student-athletes achieving a 3.16 overall grade point average, which is significantly higher than the general student population.”
In addition, several student-athletes are heavily involved in local community service. Between Rochester’s “Clean Sweep” initiative, or “Tigers Give Back” RIT student-athletes are always volunteering their time to others in the community.
On Friday, the RIT Tigers will “roar for reading” at John Williams School No. 5. More than 55 student athletes, coaches, administrators and RIT Wallace Center staff members will promote literacy and success in school at the “Giant Read.” RIT volunteers will be at School No. 5 at 555 North Plymouth Ave. from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Volunteers will read the book Amazing Tigers to all the first graders in the school’s gymnasium and then play games.
What a great way to represent RIT in the community. Next week, Kelly Downs will recap this great event.