Allie Shannon has gone from the court at Howard Coffin Gym to the halls of Altama Elementary. The College of Coastal Georgia senior volleyball player and elementary education major is doing her student teaching at the nearby school.
“I love it,” Shannon said. “We just started last week. It’s been a big change going every day from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. I feel like an adult with a job now, but it’s a lot of fun and I really enjoy it.”
Shannon was one of 42 Coastal Georgia athletes to finish the fall semester with a 3.0 or above grade-point average.
Six, including Shannon, had perfect 4.0 averages.
“School’s always been important to me,” said Shannon, who was also named the Southern States Athletic Conference’s Volleyball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. “You have to learn how to balance (school work and volleyball), especially with all the traveling. It was hard at first, but I really learned how to get stuff done on the bus and taking advantage of the time when I don’t have volleyball. I also have a lot of school friends, and we help each other out.”
Joining Shannon in the 4.0 club were fellow volleyball teammates Cayley Meiners and Alexis Downey, and softball players Olivia Husted, Paige Alt and Morgan Cobb.
Talk to a few athletes and you will learn time management is one of the most important factors for athletes maintaining a high GPA, something that has always come naturally to softball player Taylor Horne.
Along with maintaining at 3.0 or better GPA, Horne also has a full-time job and her own wedding to plan. That, combined with softball practice starting this week, makes time management crucial for the senior.
“I’ve always had good time management,” Horne said. “I kind of just do whatever I have to to make it all work.”
Coastal’s Momodou Senghorn and Jonathan Canada are the two players on the men’s basketball team with a 3.0 or better. Senghorn said that being a student-athlete has helped prepare him for the rigors of the real world.
“It kind of gave me a wake-up call because you have to figure out the right balance to make sure everything is done by a certain time,” Senghorn said. “If I was to work a regular office job, it wouldn’t be as hard (as playing basketball and going to school).”
Teammates that push each other on the court or on the field, also push each other when it comes to the classroom.
Along with the three players that had 4.0 averages, the volleyball and softball teams also had 12 players with 3.0 or better GPAs. Joining Horne from the softball team were Katie Burns, Dawn Stewart, Kensey Solomon, Savannah Money and Katie McGinnis, while the volleyball team also had Rachel Amundson, Alyssa Keeve, Jennifer Johnson, Kyra White, Jesi Garrett and Jessica Brown with a 3.0 or better.
“When we’re on the bus, it’s late and you’re tired and you see someone studying, it lets you know what you should be doing,” Shannon said. “We all take school seriously so it was easy (to ask) if you needed people to be quiet. We all did it together and pushed each other.”
For Horne, helping her teammates is something that has been past down to all players on the softball team.
“I’ve gone all four years with having seniors ahead of me to set an example,” Horne said. “If you need a hand or need help, you need to let us know and we’ll help you as much as we can. (Coastal Georgia softball) Coach Mike (Minick) has always been really good about coming to us halfway through the term and saying ‘alright, if you need help, now is the time to tell me and we’ll go get you a tutor.’”
Other athletes who averaged a 3.0 or better GPA include women’s basketball players Jakaria Fleming, Khaila McMorris, Kaci Palo and Lynsey Washington; men golfers Taylor Guilbeau, Lauri Hacklin, Eamon Owen, Ajay Patel, Paxton Shuman, Michael Spinger and Harrison Stafford; women golfers Libby Luedtke, Niquole Mangal, Madison Manning and Ana Mashevsky; men’s tennis players Rhan Burton, Ben Dolan, and Nathan Kimmel; and women’s tennis players Madeline Garner, Ingrid Kasabkojian, Samantha Lasslett, Samantha Sepe.
One reason for the athletes’ athletic success is the academic help available to Coastal students if they need it. Understanding professors who are ready to help at a moment’s notice also helps.
“I can contribute a lot of my success academically to our professors and the tools and resources we have to complete each task,” Taylor said. “We’re always given a lot of time to do what we need to do. If athletes ever have an issue with anything, they’re just basically a phone call away and that always helps.”
Coaches also stay on their players to focus on academics. Senghorn said, “They always check on you to make sure you’re on the right track.”
One of the toughest thing for Senghorn as compared to other sports is the basketball season takes up part of both semesters. The season begins as the fall semester is in its final weeks and goes until about midway through the spring semester.
“Towards the end, near finals, it makes it tougher,” Senghorn said. “Now you have to study for finals and worry about practice.”
Senghorn is a sophomore on the court, but a junior in the classroom and already has an associate degree in general business. He is majoring in business with a focus on leadership and wants to play in Europe when he wraps up his college career.
Along with planning a wedding, going to school and getting ready for the upcoming season, Horne is also currently getting work experience in her major. The McIntosh County Academy graduate and public administration major is working at the city clerk’s office in Darien learning the ropes.
“I would eventually like to be a city manager,” said Horne, who also plans to pursue a master’s degree after she graduates from Coastal in May. “I’m kind of learning from the ground up there.”
Shannon is also set to graduate in May. When she was a freshman, her and her teammates had study tables that they had to do until a certain GPA was reached.
The message was clear — the student part of student-athlete shouldn’t be taken for granted.
“It’s not just about being an athlete, school comes first,” Shannon said.