by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Kansas City Kansas Community College’s softball team made a sweep of Academic All-American team honors this past spring – which should come as no surprise.
In 15 years of college coaching, teams coached by Lana Ross have achieved Academic All-American honors every year – 13 years at Iowa Western and one year each at Fort Scott and KCKCC.
Designated an Academic Team of the Year by the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association), the Blue Devil program ranked No. 23 among 135 teams academically. With a grade point average of 3.46, the Blue Devils were also recognized nationally as an Academic All-American team by the NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association).
Seven Blue Devils earned NJCAA Academic All-American honors including five on the first team with 4.00 grade point averages – three sophomores, Kaylee Arnzen, first baseman from Pampa, Texas; Gracie Gentry, infielder from Turner; and Britney Smith, second baseman from Basehor-Linwood; and two freshmen, shortstop Hannah Redick of Shawnee Mission North; and pitcher Shaylun Grosstephan of Girard, Kansas.
Devin Purcell, a freshman outfielder from Eudora, was named to the second team with a 3.90 GPA; and Alexis Rymer, a freshman outfielder from Piper, was named to the third team with a 3.72 GPA.
All seven were also recognized as NFCA All-American Scholar Athletes along with Brittney Beck a sophomore catcher who graduated from Ellinwood High School in Bushton, Kansas.
“Our team goal is to have every athlete with a 3.00 GPA or better,” Ross said. “Basically, that’s the minimum, we strive for 3.5. I tell our players they are not doing it for me, they are doing it for themselves; that it will affect their future and is always going to be important.”
Study hall begins the second week of classes.
“No exceptions; miss study hall and they don’t practice and they don’t play,” Ross said.
The number of study hours required each week depends on an athlete’s grade point average.
“I make grade checks every three weeks to see if our players are on track,” Ross said. “If someone’s in trouble and needs help academically, we get a tutor or whatever they need.”
The challenge of Ross and assistant Jenn Strohman will increase in 2019-2020. In addition to seven holdovers from this year’s team, they’ll have 15 incoming freshmen.