By Chardonnae Parker / Delta Staff Writer

College athletes around the world often struggle to realize what they are sent to college to do and many get so caught up in sports and being a young college kid, they often forget that they are also students. 

Every school year the NAIA and Heart of America Conference recognizes a number of student athletes for their achievements on and off the field. Students are voted in their coaches, but to qualify for this award student athletes must have “earned at least a 3.40 cumulative GPA, accumulated at least 60 semester hours, been enrolled for at least five semesters, and attended their current school for at least two semesters prior to nominating.”

After the nominations, the Heart of America Conference reviews the nominations, then determines if that particular student athlete has met all requirements. If they have, they become a recipient. Missouri Valley College has the honor to recognize 79 of their student athletes with the DakStat Scholar reward.  

Players from their athletic teams included; baseball,women’s and men’s basketball, cheer, cross country, football, golf, women’s and men’s soccer, softball, women’s track and field, women’s and men’s volleyball, and wrestling. 

“Missouri Valley was one of only five schools in the Heart to produce at least 70 honorees this year, and finished with the third-highest total in the conference, with 79 honorees. Leading the athletic programs was the women’s soccer team, with 18 of its student-athletes recognized,” said Andy Pulverenti, MVC sports information director.

MVC recognized these students athletes and encourages them to have many more successful years both in and out of the classroom. For many students it is often hard to juggle sports and academics, but these 79 student athletes not only took care of business in athletics, but in their classrooms also.  Finding a good work balance with it all can be tough. These athletes are proof that it can be done and inspire others to do the same.  

DakStat scholars exhibit great time management skills, balance, and most importantly focus.  Madison Belanger, who received the award, said she uses time management to make sure everything gets done.

“Time management is the key to a successful athletic year and also academics,” she said. “No matter what your friends say procrastination is not key.”

As many people know, many students often find reasons or ways to procrastinate with school and sometimes other work.  Another DakStat scholar Peyton Funk agreed.

“Time management is important for more than just athletics and academics, but also taking care of yourself; mind, body, and soul,” she said. “Find time to break during workouts, in season, and most definitely when studying. Keep scapegoats around you and you would always want to keep your mental breaks.”  

Many coaches offer not only encouragement but also incentives for their players who maintain high grade point averages.  Most athletic departments across campus not only encourage their student-athletes to use what the school has to offer such as the library, learning center, Student Success Office and different types of tutors on and off campus, but they also require study hours or tables for a time for their athletes to really sit and focus on academics. 

As a graduate assistant for the Women’s Basketball Program Veronika Petkova says, “college athletics is bigger than just sports. It is called student- athletes for a reason. In our program, our girls will be the first to tell you that we tell them all the time we want to build for after basketball. Preparing these ladies to be as successful as possible is our goal.  So the athletes that are honored with the DakStat Scholar award should feel extremely accomplished but also inspired to continue the great work.”