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Soccer teams earn academic awards

Men's, women’s teams awarded United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award for GPAs

The men’s and women’s soccer teams earned the United Soccer Coaches 2018-19 Team Academic Award, given to college teams with a composite grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

Brown was one of 259 schools to receive the award for both its men’s and women’s teams. With a 3.44 GPA, the men’s team received the award for the 13th consecutive year. The women’s team, with a 3.58 GPA, received their fifth award since 2011.

“I’m really proud of our team,” said Sydney Cummings ’21, the women’s captain. “I see what my teammates go through every day, whether it’s being in class with them or seeing them studying late in one of the libraries, so I think it’s really nice to be rewarded for hard work.”

Men’s Head Coach Patrick Laughlin attributed this long-term academic success to the team’s culture of accountability and dedication. “It’s part of who we are as a program, and it’s part of what we expect and what they expect of each other,” he said. “It’s part of the team environment and culture to expect that type of drive both on and off the field.”

Managing the balance between Division I athletics and Ivy League academics requires hard work, time management skills and sacrifice, Cummings said. Sacrifice “is sort of part of being an athlete, especially at such a prestigious institution,” she said. “You have to know when to give up your social life, for example, in order to perform in the classroom and perform on the field.”

Women’s Head Coach Kia McNeill said that before an away game against Columbia last weekend, many of her players could be found in their rooms, studying and taking notes. After the game, a 2-0 victory, some players spent the late bus ride back to Brown completing schoolwork, Cummings added. The women’s soccer team currently stands at 8-1-1 and is tied for first place in the Ivy League. The men’s team has an overall record of 1-6-1.

Men’s captain Daniel Schiller ’20 said that balancing practice with work and sleep can be challenging. “It’s just a matter of finding those slots where you can do the work and do it successfully,” he said.

According to McNeill, building a team with strong academics begins with recruiting. “When your academics are going well, soccer goes well,”she said. “You need to find athletes who are dedicated and passionate about the academic side of things, so that hopefully that will trickle through on the soccer side as well.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams said they have a community in place to ensure that players receive the academic help they need. Cummings said that members of the women’s team often tutor fellow teammates in classes or subjects that they know well. Both Cummings and Schiller said that players will study together if they are in the same or similar classes.

In addition, coaches on the women’s side have an open door policy for players seeking academic advice or resources, Cummings said. Schiller added that the men’s program matches players with coaches to encourage an open dialogue about off-the-field issues as well.

“Brown is a school that really prides itself on resources,” McNeill said. “It’s my job to make sure that my student athletes know what’s out there for them that they can utilize.”

The award is “a testament to (the) Brown student experience,” Schiller said. “We are motivated to achieve in all aspects of life, not just in life as athletes but also in life as students and life as human beings.”


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