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UNK women's basketball goes for more than athletics
Jennifer Kardell
Antelope Staff

The UNK women’s basketball team may not have started their season the way they had hoped, by losing their first three games. However, they have something to be proud of.


The team has started the season on a high note with their academics. The Lopers are currently ranked ninth academically in NCAA Division II— tied with Winona State University in rankings determined by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.


The WBCA chooses the top 25 teams in each NCAA division by overall team GPA. The Lopers sit firmly in ninth place with a GPA of 3.520. The team was not far from the top spot held by St. Thomas Aquinas College with their overall GPA of 3.694.


The Lopers have always been nationally ranked while under the direction of head coach Carol Russell. "Since I have been the head coach here at UNK, we have consistently been ranked for our academics. The lowest our team has been ranked is 11th in the nation, and the highest we have been ranked was for the 2002-2003 academic year where we were No. 1 in the nation overall NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II and NCAA Division III women's basketball programs," Russell said.


The players themselves, however, play the biggest role in their academic honors. Team members Megan Becker, a senior advertising major from Beaver City, and Sarah Ludwick, a sophomore elementary education major from Elkhorn, have spent many hours studying and utilizing the resources provided to them to keep up with their academic studies.


Ludwick spends about two hours every night studying, using resources such as the UNK library and tutors when needed.


The number of hours Becker spends studying usually depends on the amount of homework she has. With all the resources provided to them, it may seem easy to balance academics with athletics, but it’s not as easy as it sounds according to Becker. "Even as a senior, I still am trying to fit everything in my schedule in one day, and it seems like there is always something more that I want to accomplish in a day. Time management is key for a student athlete, and I will admit it took me a few years to figure that out."


The team is very happy with their academic accomplishments and couldn’t do it alone. They have a great support team at UNK from their tutors as well as coach Russell. Ludwick says, "It's really exciting. Our coach stresses academics, and it's great knowing it paid off."


The Lopers’ next task is to get a few more “wins" on the board and finish out the season on a high note.


You can catch the Lopers in action in their next double feature at home with a game against New Mexico Highlands University on Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. and again on Dec. 5 against Colorado State-Pueblo—which is also at 6 p.m.

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