In fall, athletes aced academic test

SIDELINES

High Schools

January 13, 2004|By PAT O'MALLEY

There is a rather unfair perception that many athletes don't do the job in the classroom. It's the tired "dumb jock" syndrome.

However, data compiled and provided by Marlene Kelly, the coordinator of athletics for Anne Arundel County public schools proves otherwise.

When people read and hear about academically ineligible athletes, it casts a negative representation of what the majority of the county's athletes are really doing.

Some 3,430 boys and girls students competed in high school varsity and junior varsity athletics this fall in Anne Arundel County. The cumulative grade point average was 3.09.

FOR THE RECORD - In Tuesday's Sidelines column, it was incorrectly reported that Anne Arundel county athletic directors appear to be in favor of coed field hockey. They are opposed to allowing boys to play field hockey. The Sun regrets the error.

Only .09 percent were below the required 2.00 grade point average while 45 percent of all the fall athletes fell in the 3.00 to 3.99 GPA. And 14 percent had GPAs of 4.0 or above.

"I think that it is assumed by many that when the academic eligibility numbers are shared with the public that the numbers indicated are a reflection of the athletes in our schools," Kelly said.

"In reality, the academic eligibility numbers are a reflection of the total population of students, not just those involved in interscholastic athletics. As you can see, our student athletes are doing an excellent job in the classroom."

The eight fall sports that comprise the 3,430 athletes are cheerleading, cross country, field hockey, football, golf, boys and girls soccer and volleyball. The highest overall GPA of 3.34 was posted by the 467 girls soccer players who had 16 athletes below 2.00.

Girls soccer also had the most athletes with a 4.0 or better GPA with 102.

Cross country (3.32), field hockey (3.29), volleyball (3.24) and boys soccer (3.09) followed. Boys soccer, with the second most participants (506), had 46 who didn't qualify with a 2.00.

Football had 955 students with an average GPA of 2.65. Some 17 percent (166) didn't qualify, but 319, the most of any sport, fell in the 3.0 to 3.9 category.

When you get right down to it, those involved in athletics, which is an additional commitment, hold their own with the overall student body. It's time to end the "dumb jock" reputation for athletes.

No boys

The field hockey advisory board to Kelly has recommended that the Anne Arundel County athletic handbook hereafter list the sport of field hockey as "girls field hockey."

If ultimately approved, it should end boys playing the sport as happened last fall when the Davis brothers, Jarrod and Josh, played for Meade High School.

The advisory board's recommendation has to be approved by the county's athletic directors, who appear to be in favor of coed field hockey. It would then go to the athletic council for a final vote.

It was the first time boys played field hockey with girls in Anne Arundel County, but the boys were not allowed to participate in the playoffs. The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association permits local jurisdictions to govern themselves, but the latter must follow MPSSAA rules in state tournaments.

The official state bulletin of the MPSSAA has always listed the sport as "girls field hockey."

"I'm impartial because I want to see boys play the sport, but I also feel the way Lil [Shelton, veteran Severna Park coach] and others do, that I don't want to see girls' chances taken away by a boy," Meade coach Carrie Vosburg said.

"It really came down to the county not putting anything in writing and now they have. Hopefully, we sparked an interest that could lead to the development of boys teams."

Hall of Fame

Tickets are still available for the Jan. 27 induction banquet of the Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame.

The 13th induction class includes: former coaches Art St. Martin, girls basketball at Brooklyn Park, and Mike Hampe, Old Mill wrestling; Michael Busch, standout football player at St. Mary's and Temple who also coached and officiated; former University of Maryland sports information director Jack Zane; and late duckpin bowling great Julian Easterday.

Also, Bob Pascal, the former county executive, will receive the County Executive's Award for his contributions to Anne Arundel athletics.

For tickets and information, call ticket chairman Bill Wentworth at 410-987-4732.

Sideliners

Steve Stielper, a 1999 county Hall of Fame inductee for basketball, has been doing volunteer work on weekends with the handicapped in New Jersey and Delaware. ... Three Severn boys lacrosse players have committed to college: defenseman Pat Grimm (Yale), attack Kevin Crumrine (Air Force Academy) and midfielder Ryan Brassel (Fairfield). ... Shelton was honored for her 400 career wins this past weekend at the National Field Hockey Coaches Association convention held at the Baltimore Marriott. ... The Maryland State High School Field Hockey Coaches Association All-State first team includes six county players: Abbi Horn, Stacey Messick and Lauren Maranto of 3A state champion Severna Park; South River's Jen May; Spalding's Erin Kelly; and Kat Fries of North County. Fran Sullivan (South River) and Caitlin Swift (Spalding) made second team.

Have a note? Call Pat O'Malley's 24-hour Sportsline at 410-647-2499 or send e-mail to patomalleysports@aol.com.

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