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Mitchell: Glenwood athletes setting new GPA standards

Jon Mitchell
jmitchell@postindependent.com
Jon Mitchell
Staff Photo |

There’s a lot of numbers that mattered to three of the winter sports teams at Glenwood Springs High School this past month. A lot of them involved threes.

There’s the 3-point field goal for the boys and girls basketball teams. All three of them — boys basketball, girls basketball, and girls swimming — had a postseason presence this season.

And there’s another kind of presence that was prevalent for those three squads this year. It’s their classroom presence, which this winter extended well beyond the classroom.



“There’s an awful lot of flashlights shining in the back of the bus on the bus rides home,” Glenwood boys hoops coach Cory Hitchcock said.

Those aren’t just flashlights shining in back. Some of them are smartphones with a flashlight application, which is being used to read a math or history book. Some of the light also comes from the smartphone calculator, which would have been used to pound out a massive math assignment that was due the next morning.



All of those assignments apparently were turned in and completed, too, because it resulted in a massive achievement for those Glenwood teams for the second year in a row.

Last month, each of those teams at Glenwood Springs High School earned the Academic All State Award, which is given by the Colorado High School Activities Association to teams with a cumulative team grade point average of 3.5 or higher, according to Jane Boudreau of CHSAA. And each one of the teams blew that number away: Glenwood’s girls hoops squad had a team GPA of 3.71, the Glenwood boys finished with a 3.63, and the girls swimming team had a GPA of 3.64.

Those are some big numbers.

“It just tells you what kind of a culture we have here at Glenwood Springs High School,” Glenwood girls basketball coach Jacky Gaddis said.

Granted, Glenwood wasn’t the only area squad that came away with the award. Coal Ridge High School’s girls basketball team also claimed the top award of athletic academia, finishing with a team GPA of 3.65. But the three Demons squads put themselves into a special class of student athletes by claiming the trifecta the way they did.

First, Glenwood was one of only two schools in all of Colorado, according to a document released by CHSAA, to have three winter sports teams achieve academic all state. The other was Fruita Monument, which had its girls basketball, girls swimming and wrestling squads pass the GPA standard.

The big deal, however, comes from how each one of those Glenwood squads did it for the second consecutive year. According to Glenwood Athletic Director Craig Denney — who has been at the school for a large number of years — that hasn’t happened since he’s been at the school. Ever.

“It not only says a lot about the kind of kids we have, but the kind of parents we have,” Denney said.

That says a lot. I’ve been in some places where the emphasis was — but really wasn’t — on academics.

For example, one school — which I’d rather not name — would pull struggling kids into a study hall to help them earn eligibility status right before a scheduled game. Those students would always come away with a positive eligibility status just in time. But when it was disclosed later on that the answers to their assignments were given — yes, given — to them, it was pretty clear where their priorities lie.

There’s no such problems in Glenwood. Granted, Hitchcock said he has a study table during the season that runs Monday and Wednesday nights during the season, and Gaddis also has a study hall for her team. You’d think there would be a major need for that, too, since much of the course load the athletes take includes things like calculus and physics.

No, there’s no overload of gym classes in these class loads. And often times, the study hall of choice isn’t just the school bus or the study table, but the gymnasium bleachers while the team waits for their scheduled games to start.

“Good grades are just an expectation here,” said Gaddis, whose team finished the 2013-14 season with a gaudy number of wins (23) and a minuscule number of losses (two).

Success breeds success, and it’s always been my belief that people become a product of their environments. It’s apparently one heck of a culture that’s been molded into the student athletes.

Which makes me wonder: are the Demons talking about a three-peat next year?

Why not? After all, everything seems to come in threes for these teams.

Jon Mitchell, the sports editor of the Glenwood Spring Post Independent, loaded up on gym classes as a senior to get his final GPA up to 2.75. He can be reached at 970-384-9123, or by email at jmitchell@postindependent.com.


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