For the Lincoln Southwest baseball team, success doesn’t start in the batting cages or on the practice field.
Instead, a key tenet of the Silver Hawk program is an emphasis on academics and a belief that success begins in the classroom.
As a result, 13 Southwest baseball players received Academic All-state honors from the Journal Star, and that number is a source of pride for coach Mitch Vernon.
“The success we've had on the baseball field is directly related to the success our players have had in the classroom,” Vernon said. “… These players make a sacrifice to excel in the classroom and on the baseball field. Baseball at Southwest is just different and special all at the same time.”
Junior Dylan Cox was Southwest’s top performer in the classroom this year, achieving a weighted grade-point average of 5.0 thanks to success in AP classes. With the high school baseball season being canceled, Cox said he would have rather achieved a state title this year, but it’s still nice to be recognized for his academic success.
After all, for baseball players who aim to play at the college level, academic success is of the utmost importance. At the Division I level, schools only have 11.7 scholarships, which can be spread among 27 players, meaning academic grants are needed to make up the difference schools can’t cover.
Cox doesn’t know his college plans yet, but both baseball and academics remain in his future.
“Academics are pretty important to me,” Cox said. “I’m hoping that my grades will allow me to earn scholarships, which I hope will make my life easier when it comes to student loan debt.”
Both Cox and fellow junior Max Petersen felt that their academic success will help them down the road, whether that be in college classes or simply the translation of skills into real life. Petersen has committed to play baseball at Nebraska and hopes that his time-management skills will be important in the future.
“Being able to stay motivated to keep your academics above anything else is crucial because I think there is a very strong connection between academic and athletic success,” Petersen said.
Even for academic all-state honorees such as Petersen and Cox, classes such as Spanish and precalculus have been challenging, but they embrace that hurdle with the belief it will help them both on and off the field.
“Academic success, as well as behavior in the classroom, is a big emphasis the coaches have at Southwest,” Petersen said. “This is a testament to the culture Southwest baseball is creating.”
Other Southwest players receiving Academic All-State honors include seniors Dane Gebers, Laken Harnly, Jake LaMarre, Nate Matthews, Tyler Sass and Seth Wise; and juniors Telo Arsiaga, Andrew Bohrer, Joon Dunsmore, Brock Merkel and Ethan Morrow.
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