Wednesday, February 05, 2014

UConn makes the grade

It was not the best of years on the football field at UConn as the Huskies lost their first nine games before finishing with a 3-9 record. In the process Paul Pasqualoni was dismissed as the head coach and new coach Bob Diaco brought in an almost entirely new staff.

However, in the classroom, the UConn players certainly had a year to remember.

During halftime of Tuesday night's women's basketball game against SMU UConn held its annual ceremony to honor the student-athletes who attained at least a 3.0 grade-point average. Among the honorees where 33 members of the football team.

I caught up with Ellen Tripp, UConn's assistant athletic director in charge of the Counseling Program for Intercollegiate Athletics who did some outstanding work with the football team over the spring and fall semesters. She was understandably ecstatic to see so many players honored for earning 3.0 GPAs.

"I think the character that they showed in the classroom and on the field translated to a lot of kids (attaining a 3.0 GPA)," Tripp said.. 

"I think it is a really nice night and they were just really excited to be here, a lot our students are so competitive on the playing field, in the pools and on the court but they are also competitive in the classroom, they compete with each other for the GPAs. I think it says a lot about their character and their pursuit of excellence because a lot of our students might not have the opportunity to play at the next level. Obviously we want that for them but if they can’t they will be able to leave with a great degree from a great institution and move forward."
The 33 honorees included 10 players who started games during the 2013 season and other key players.

"When you look at (quarterbacks) Casey Cochran, Chandler Whitmer who were such great leaders on the field and yet you see that carry over to (center) Alex Mateas and other players who hold key positions in our starting lineup and that speaks a lot to the younger kids," Tripp said. "I was speaking to one of the freshmen before I came over here and he was really upset because he missed it by .02 of a point. He was really upset and said ‘next year I am going to be out there.’ I thought that was great to see him fired up about school and that is obviously that is what we want."

A total of 28 of those honored are expected to be members of the 2014 team and Tripp has been impressed with the focus on academics she has seen from Diaco and his staff.

"I think with Coach Diaco and his coaches, I am excited they are here because they come from really good academic institutions and have been really supportive," Tripp said. "Their message has been academics first which is really great and to have that from the top down, we are really lucky."

Considering that the men's basketball team was ineligible for last year's NCAA tournament due to poor academic performance, Tripp was especially thrilled to see eight members of that program among those honored for academic achievement.

"The men’s basketball team, it was great to see them coming out," Tripp said. "We have had such great academic success with them in the last year and the last semester which is really wonderful."

There were 17 student-athletes who attained a 4.0 GPA in either the spring or fall semester and those students were given an additional moment to be in the spotlight.

"I am in awe of them because I don’t know how they do it with such challenging majors and many of them are so elite in their various sports as well, they are so dedicated and I think it is really special," Tripp said. "I think it is great for students to be honored in a public venue where the stereotypes that are out there about student-athletes can be debunked."

Here is the list of football players who were honored. Players in bold have eligibility remaining.

Kyle Bockeloh, OL
John Luke Bogue, WR
Tyler Bullock, OL
Jeremy Claflin, DB
Casey Cochran, QB
Gus Cruz, OL
Chris DeBerry, WR
Max DeLorenzo, RB
Michael Ecke, QB
Kevin Friend, OT
Dalton Gifford, OT
Steve Greene, OG
Frank Guardi, WR
Alex Haendler, LB
Tom Hopkins, OL
Jonathan Hryniewicz, WR
Byron Jones, CB
Andreas Knappe, DL
Richard Levy, OL
Dominick Manco, LS
Ellis Marder, DB
Sean Marinan,DL
Josh Marriner, RB
Alex Mateas, C
Obi Melifonwu, S
Adam Mueller, LS
Tommy Myers, TE
Bobby Puyol, K
Zach Rugg, OL
Kyle Schafenacker, OL
Tony Tully, WR
Justin Wain, P
Chandler Whitmer, QB


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home