By Pat Mariboe
Elm Staff Writer
The Washington College Men and Women’s Soccer teams both were recently awarded a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) College Team Academic Award for their academic achievements off the field in the 2014-2015 season. Washington College joins 208 other colleges across the country whose teams’ student athletes finished with a 3.0 GPA or higher. This is the second consecutive year that the women’s team and second year head coach Kerry Smith has won the award. This is the second time in five years that the men’s soccer team and head coach Roy Dunshee received this award, the last time being in 2010.
“We always say that in college soccer, college comes first,” said Dunshee. “We make a strong effort as a group to honor the academic experience and take full advantage of the great educational opportunities here at WC. It makes me immensely proud when they perform in the classroom.”
Dunshee, whose team sits at an impressive 8-5 record so far on the season, hopes that this award sends a message not only to the WC community, but to future Shoremen and Shorewomen as well.
“I think it sends a strong message to prospective players and their families,” said Dunshee. “If you come to play soccer at Washington College, you are going to get a great education and you will be expected to perform in the classroom. College soccer lasts just four years, but the lessons learned on and off the field last a lifetime. We must therefore maximize our learning both on the field and in the classroom to get the full benefit of the college soccer experience.”
Smith, whose team is currently 3-8-1 on the season, takes pride in her team’s dedication to their academic endeavors.
“We place a high priority on academics within our program and our student-athletes work tremendously hard in the classroom so it’s nice that they receive some recognition for their efforts,” said Smith. “If I’m being honest, this group was already very successful in the classroom before I took over the program and I’m sure they have probably earned it a few times without realizing it.”
Both Dunshee and Smith stress the idea that while on-field success may be the most important topic of discussion at the end of a training session or game, it really is all about the off-field interactions with fellow students and professors that really helps mold the student athletes not only into a successful team, but a family.
“Academic achievement has become a big part of our team identity,” said Dunshee. “In our off-season, the players form small groups to compete in a series of events that take place over several months. We call this our Champions League. They engage in a variety of athletic challenges. They are also awarded points for charitable acts and efforts to help the community. But the biggest of all these events is their team grade point average. In this way we link athletic success, community awareness and academic performance. This is the essence of college athletics.”
“One the most enjoyable aspects of my role here are the conversations with the student-athletes about their futures and how to apply their strengths and passions to make a difference,” said Smith. “We place a big emphasis on developing skills that will serve them well in life; time management, problem solving, dealing with conflict, effective communication, teamwork, dealing with adversity, core values, etc. I believe that if we focus on developing character, the results in the classroom and on the field will take care of themselves in the long run.”