SCOOBA – Highlighted by the softball program's seventh consecutive year of NJCAA Academic Team Award recognition, East Mississippi Community College had a school-record 26 recipients earn NJCAA Academic Student-Athlete Awards for this past academic year. The 2015-16 NJCAA team and individual honors for academic achievement were officially announced this week by the NJCAA national office headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Coach Kyndall White's EMCC softball team ranked third nationally with a program-high 3.66 team grade point average for the 2015-16 academic year, standing just behind NJCAA Softball Academic Team of the Year Lincoln Trail [IL] College (3.71) and Lincoln [IL] College (3.67). The EMCC Lions previously garnered back-to-back NJCAA Softball Academic Team of the Year accolades by recording prior school-best GPA marks of 3.59 and 3.58 in 2012-13 and 2013-14, respectively. EMCC's softball program has now posted composite team GPA numbers of 3.31 or better every season dating back to the 2009-10 academic year.
Also earning NJCAA Academic Team Award honorable mention status for the second straight year under the direction of head coach Chris Rose, EMCC's baseball team completed the 2015-16 academic year with a 3.02 composite grade point average. The Lions baseball program has now collected NJCAA Academic Team Award honorable mention recognition five times dating back to the 2008-09 academic year.
In addition, EMCC's golf (2.99 GPA), women's basketball (2.96) and men's basketball (2.84) teams all approached the NJCAA's required 3.0 team grade point average for 2015-16 academic team recognition.
Taking advantage of the NJCAA's revised criteria that allowed first-year student-athletes to be eligible for academic honors this year, EMCC's new school-record total of 26 NJCAA academic recipients surpasses the previous mark of 17 EMCC academic honorees set in 2013-14.
South Alabama-bound Marissa Landrum, along with her 2015-16 EMCC freshman softball teammates Jordan Self and Mallory Vance, collected the NJCAA's Pinnacle Award for Academic Excellence for having maintained perfect 4.0 grade point averages. This marks the third time in the last four years that EMCC has had three NJCAA Pinnacle Award recipients during a given academic year.
Fellow EMCC softball graduates Valiree Blair and Blake Rigdon followed close behind with identical 3.91 grade point averages to secure the NJCAA's Superior Academic Achievement Award. Leading the way for East Mississippi Community College with a dozen NJCAA academic honorees off the team's 23-member squad this past season, EMCC's softball Lions also had freshmen Rachel Rooney, Danielle Darmohray, Ciara Steward and Kendall Wilkinson earn NJCAA Superior Academic Achievement Award status for compiling GPAs of 3.80 or higher during the 2015-16 academic year.
EMCC's baseball team was next with five NJCAA academic recipients (Drake Pace-3.75; Corley Reynolds-3.68; Emil Ellis-3.67; Joseph Caskey-3.64; and Zack Boone-3.63), followed closely by the football team's four selections (Joseph Willis-3.81; Thaddeus Roberts-3.67; Malik Mayweather-3.66; and Desmond Lester-3.60). Women's basketball was close behind with a trio of academic honorees (Tianna Germain-3.69; Anissia May-3.64; and Cam Campbell-3.61), while men's basketball (Montrael Nabors-3.71) and golf (Cason Collins-3.65) each had one NJCAA academic recipient.
Along with the three Pinnacle Award recipients and seven Superior Academic Achievement Award honorees, EMCC had 16 student-athletes receive Exemplary Academic Achievement Awards for compiling GPAs between 3.60-3.79.
In a change from previous years, first-year student-athletes with at least 24 semester-hours or 36 quarter-hours became eligible for the awards in 2015-16. This modification to the award qualifications led to a 133 percent increase in the number of student-athletes earning national recognition for their academic achievements.
The NJCAA recognized a record-number 4,587 student-athletes for their success in the classroom with the presentation of the 2015-16 NJCAA Academic Student-Athlete Awards this week. Additionally, a total of 27 teams – 14 men's and 13 women's – were honored for accumulating the highest GPA in their respective sport while meeting the minimum 3.0 requirement. Beyond the 27 teams honored with the NJCAA Academic Team of the Year Award, a record 687 programs – 211 men's and 476 women's – earned honorable mention recognition.