Mercer’s court and sand volleyball teams were recent recipients of the American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award for the 2018-2019 academic year. The AVCA’s award honors high school and college volleyball teams for academic excellence through their maintenance of a 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average on a 4.0 scale or a 4.10 cumulative team GPA on a 5.0 scale.
The sand volleyball team was one of the 15 teams that were named for the AVCA Team Academic Honor Roll, which relies on a minimum number of nominations in their division.
“Keeping the balance is difficult, especially in season. It mostly comes from experience. As a senior, I have been balancing long enough where I know how to dedicate the time I can to volleyball and use the rest of my time for academics,” senior Amber Gibson said.
Gibson began playing volleyball in third grade, so she’s used to the balance of keeping up with academics and athletics, she said. While college makes it harder to keep that balance, the entire team knows that their academics have to remain first.
“Academics are important to our whole team, so it definitely helps having teammates that have similar academic goals than you and are willing to help you out,” she said. “While being successful on the court is our number one goal, everyone from teammates to coaches understand that school doesn’t take a back seat.”
During the season, Gibson and her teammates have to fit in time to prepare for games, including studying film, recovering, training and more.
“My studying is greatly impacted by our game schedule. We do a lot of traveling, so it is very important to find time on the road to get some homework done,” Gibson said.
Free time outside of game preparation mainly includes homework, especially during busier weeks.
“I am extremely proud of receiving my academic honors. It hasn’t been easy juggling school and athletics, but I think it is important especially because it shows our incoming players that we don’t let our academics slide even though we are looking to be successful in volleyball, this year especially while we train to win the SoCon,” Gibson said.
Tournaments have already begun for the Bears this season, with the court team going up against the likes of Southern University, University of New Orleans and Tennessee State.
The season schedule is available on the Mercer Athletics page.