It's not easy to be the smartest kid in the class. Imagine being the smartest team in the country.
The Trophy Club Nelson softball team knows a thing of two about this, earning the National Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association’s All-Academic Team award with a weighted GPA of 4.916 in 2017.
According to an NFCA news release, this grade point average places the Bobcats “significantly ahead of all other teams in the United States.”
This was no accident, either.
“We have a program culture of working hard at everything we do,” coach Kathy Schoettle said. “That includes our classroom work. We haven’t set winning the award as a goal, because what other schools do is out of our control, but we do want our kids to work to be better people, students and athletes each day.
“We feel that when you focus on being a better person first, then other things tend to follow the same pattern of improvement. Being better people in general gives more meaning to anything we may achieve.”
This is the fifth straight season that Nelson has received the distinction, and infielder Maddie Flores said it really never gets old.
“It’s a huge honor,” Flores said. “Our team works so hard to thrive on the field and in the classroom, so it’s awesome to be recognized for this accomplishment for five consecutive years. Entering this program as a freshman, I had junior and senior teammates who were ranked academically at the very top of their class.
“They were a huge source of motivation for me and their dedication showed me that it is possible to be a top tier student and athlete. I’m thankful to have been a teammate with such amazing student athletes.”
Flores said she and her teammates do not really focus on winning the distinction each year, but said they have created a way to put themselves into the best possible position to do so.
“In past years, Coach Schoettle has implemented a friendly competition by splitting us up into inter-squad teams,” Flores said. “These teams work to earn points through making good grades among other team-building challenges. This keeps our eye on academic success, but honestly, our girls are just good, hard-working, intrinsically motivated players and students who I’m blessed to play softball with.”
Schoettle attributes the success her team has had with receiving the honor to the diligence her players put forth in the classroom and the types of courses they take.
“Many of our kids take four or more AP classes, and that’s pressure enough,” Schoettle said. “We just focus on being a little better each day. In the end, it’s not about a trophy, it’s about the foundation our kids work for in order to help them succeed in life.”