On Wednesday, April 4 the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) announced their 2018 All Academic MPSF Student-Athlete selections for both men’s and women’s track and field, which featured 15 Highlanders. 10 of the student-athletes recognized came from the women’s track team while the remaining five came from the men’s track team. In order to be eligible for selection the student-athlete must maintain a 3.0 grade point average, be at least a sophomore academically, complete one full year at the institution, and compete in at least half of the team’s contests. The Highlander caught up with Track and Field Director Nate Brown over email to see how he’s been able to create a culture that values academics just as much as on the field success.

Dominic Petric: What have you done for the team to create a culture that embraces a high scholastic culture?

Nate Brown: We try and emphasize that academics come first by recruiting student-athletes with a strong academic profile that are driven to get a degree. We hold standards high by not allowing athletes under a 2.5 to travel to away competition except for postseason. If someone identifies as needing extra oversight they are assigned weekly study hall hours and meetings with our athletics academic counselor.

Petric: Are there any changes that have been made within the last couple seasons that have helped the student-athletes raise their GPA’s?

Brown: The biggest change was the travel GPA standard. No one wants to miss out on opportunities because they’re being a deadbeat in the classroom. We also implemented a perpetual trophy for the highest event group GPA. The first year men’s sprints won, the second year it was men’s throwers. This year it’s looking good for one of the distance groups.

Petric: How do your student-athletes balance their academics and athletics at the same time and have you had any impact or offered any advice on how they can balance those two things?

Brown: We deal with at the root which is time management. No matter how busy one’s schedule we all only have 24 hours in a day. They must “put the big things in first” and then fill their calendar with everything else.  Those that get a handle on their weekly calendar and prioritize and stay proactive don’t have any issues balancing.

Petric: What resources does your team use to maintain their GPA’s?

Brown: We use study hall, tutoring services, office hours, the academic computer lab, group studying, supplemental instruction. Our school has so many resources literally at their fingertips. So those that struggle continually aren’t using those resources in my opinion.

Petric: How do you motivate your student-athletes to perform their best both on and off the field?

Brown: We remind them that their future is waiting. The better they perform now, the more doors will be open to them in their future. We talk constantly about “next step” thinking and prioritizing and making decisions now that will affect the next few years of your life.  Track and field will fade but their education will prepare them for their future.

Below is the list of UCR’s winners of the MPSF award:

Women’s Indoor Track & Field (10)

  • Camille Deadwiler, Senior, Fremont, CA
  • Kenady Jackson, Sophomore, Berkeley, CA
  • Destiny Mitchell, Sophomore
  • Weslie Pearce, Senior, Santa Clarita, CA
  • Emily Sanchez, Junior, West, Covina, CA
  • Stephanie Martinez, Senior, English, Murrieta, CA
  • Taylor Brown, Senior, Merced, CA
  • Ashley Rodriguez, Senior
  • Victoria Teraji, Senior, Castroville, CA
  • Leslie Rivera, Sophomore, La Puente, CA
  • Jessica Tobias, Senior, Huntington Park, CA

Men’s Indoor Track & Field (5)

  • Michael Kojin, Senior, Valencia, CA
  • Ethan Van Setten, Junior, Fontana, CA
  • Lawrence O’Hara, Senior, Riverside, CA
  • Wesley Braddock, Senior, San Diego, CA
  • Aman Irani, Junior, San Diego, CA