Volleyball adds academic accolades to list of awards
By ZACH BOND
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Lyndsey Oates and her Northern Colorado volleyball program continue to haul in awards, even during the offseason, as the Bears were announced Friday as one of 533 teams to earn the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award for the 2011-12 season.
Even more impressively, Oates' squad was one of 102 Division I Women's programs – and the only Division I program in Colorado – to earn the honor.
"We are honored to be among the teams receiving this award," Oates said. "Our players make sure they are good students first and athletes second. Once they graduate, there aren't many professional volleyball opportunities out there, so their degrees are what will matter.
"We really have some great resources through our academic center that help our girls meet the demands of Division I athletics and a full class-load. Putting academics first in not just a line we tell recruits – our student-athletes really embrace it on their own and this award helps validate that."
The award, which was initiated in the 1992-93 academic year, honors collegiate and high school volleyball teams that displayed excellence in the classroom during the school year by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average on a 4.0 scale or a 4.10 cumulative team GPA on a 5.0 scale.
Oates and the rest of her Northern Colorado squad can add the AVCA honor to a number of other awards from last season after the Bears finished 22-9 (13-3 Big Sky) and took home both the regular season and postseason Big Sky Championships – not to mention a trip to their second NCAA Tournament in three years.
The Team Academic Award has become one of the AVCA's fastest growing awards programs, seeing an impressive surge in teams honored over the past several years. Since the 2000-2001 season, the number of recipients has increased every single year but one, while amassing an overall 200% increase over the span of the last decade. Since the award's inception in 1993, the award has risen by an astounding 760%. NCAA Division I recorded their highest-ever total number of recipients, honoring 102 programs.
Over 1,000 different schools have earned the award in the program's 20-year history, with exactly 4,827 awards been given out in total. Only two institutions, both high schools, have earned the distinction all 20 years: Jonesboro High School (Jonesboro, Arkansas) and Ross S. Sterling High School (Baytown, Texas).