Coach BJ McNicol and soccer team discuss academic successes for fall 2017 semester
The Saddleback athletic department announced a six percent increase and the largest number of athletic students named onto the Athletic Honor Roll for fall 2017 on March 16. The Saddleback women’s soccer team also executed their best academic year thus far in 2017. 79 percent of the team made the Athletic Honor Roll; furthermore, 27 percent achieved a perfect 4.00 grade point average in fall 2017.
Posed photograph of the Saddleback College’s women’s soccer team for 2017. (BJ McNicol)
The Athletic Honor Roll requires that student athletes register for and complete at least 12 units with a 3.00 GPA or higher during the semester. 23 of the 35 total soccer players made the Athletic Honor Roll. Marisa Covarrubias, Jackie Nichols, Sarah Parrick, Alyssa Pellow, Gabrielle Race, Sofie Johansson, Kailey Kerr and Rebecca Zachary make up the eight players for the women’s soccer team that completed their fall 2017 semester with a 4.00 GPA.
According to BJ McNicol, the head women’s soccer coach, the team contains the largest sports program at Saddleback with a total of 35 players when including Red Shirt athletes, or team members that practice but do not play actual competitions or matches. They have performed at five consecutive California Community College Athletic Association playoff appearances as well. Currently, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America has ranked the team’s coaches in its top 25.
“Dustin Bothwell directly works with our players and does an amazing job getting our students access to all the supporting resources available and he does an amazing job,” said McNicol. “Our players are required to turn in grade check forms twice a semester to ensure they are staying on track in their class.”
During (#7) Kailey Kerr’s freshman season, she played in a total of nine games as a forward and scored one goal. According to the team roster, Kerr has also coached a boy’s soccer team.
“The reason why I got a 4.0 GPA during season was because one, I used my resources, I took advantage of my free time (didn’t waste it on Facebook or Twitter), worked hard but gave myself breaks, always came prepared to class and lastly, I always thought of the long term and how my hard work will pay off someday.” said Kerr, a biology major.
Jackie Nichols (#16), another of the eight teammates that accomplished a 4.0 GPA, previously attended Chapman University. She currently plays defense for Saddleback College.
“While the grades I achieved were through motivating myself and my own hard work, I feel like my coaches and teammates had a part in it as well,” said Nichols, a microbiology major. “The girls on the team constantly encourage one another to succeed and we would all go to the LRC once a week for an hour to study and do homework together.”
Alyssa Pellow (#30), an additional athlete that realized an ultimate GPA, currently performs as a midfielder. However, she played for Marymount California University on a soccer scholarship for her freshman year of college. The team roster specifies that she held the position of team captain before graduating from Laguna Beach High School.
“I was originally not going to play soccer at Saddleback but the coaches convinced me and I’m glad they did,” said Pellow. “My experience with Saddleback Soccer was definitely very fun and interesting. The coaches are really supportive of you and being forced to go study for a few hours every week in study hall helped a lot.”
McNicol mentioned that the team trains from Monday through Friday during the fall semester, which is their game season time. Matches occur on Tuesdays and Fridays specifically. He estimated that the team’s athletes spend more than 15 hours a week training, traveling and competing with other colleges.
The women’s soccer team participates in the Program Assisting Student-Athlete Success which requires each individual player to spend at least three hours in Saddleback’s Learning Resource Center.
The Division of Online Education and Learning Resources at Saddleback College provides free PASS tutoring for student players. Academic counselors Mike Long and Sheryl Christensen work with Saddleback athletes.
The women’s soccer team has also received Orange Empire Conference and California Community College Athletic Association scholar award nominations. Saddleback College’s women’s golf, women’s cross county, men’s basketball, women’s and men’s water polo also obtained CCCAA nominations for having each player on the team retaining a 3.0 GPA minimum.