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Gamecock Success Week: Leaders in the Classroom and Community
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Gamecock Success Week: Leaders in the Classroom and Community

June 28, 2018

In addition to excelling in their respective arenas of competition, South Carolina student-athletes continued to excel in the classroom and make a big impact in the community. South Carolina marked its highest semester grade point average in history with a 3.287 last spring. It was also the department’s 23rd consecutive semester in which the student-athletes have combined for a GPA above a 3.0. Outside of the classroom, the Gamecocks led the SEC for the fifth straight year with more than 7,100 hours of community service.

“Our student-athletes continue to excel in the classroom, in the community, and in athletic competition,” Athletics Director Ray Tanner said. “The numbers are amazing with 23 straight semesters of a cumulative 3.0 GPA or higher and leading the SEC in Academic Honor Roll students and community service hours. We talk a lot about how graduation should be celebrated as a `championship experience.’ More than 250 student-athletes have earned their degree during the last 12 months. That is the ultimate goal.”

“Our student-athletes continue to achieve excellence in the classroom and the community,” said Maria Hickman, Senior Associate Athletics Director for Academics and Student Development. “The Dodie Academic staff works tirelessly to provide resources and structure to ensure our student-athletes continue to be successful academically.”

Several teams within the athletic department obtained their highest program GPA to date. These include Equestrian (3.573), Women’s Golf (3.869), Softball (3.590), Men’s Swimming (3.408), and Men’s Track (3.334).

“This really says a lot about who our student-athletes are as people,” said Megan Stoltzfus, Director of Student-Athlete Development. “To be able to pair athletics and academic success with giving back to the community speaks volumes about the type of people and citizens that we’re producing here at the University of South Carolina. A lot of this is driven by the student-athletes themselves, where they come to me asking how they can help in different areas they have an interest.”

Fourteen of the eighteen teams earned a 3.0 or better GPA. The department named 69 student-athletes to the President’s List, 216 to the Dean’s List, and 387 to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll (3.0).

“It just speaks to our student-athletes and how motivated they are to be successful in the classroom and on the field,” said head softball coach Beverly Smith. “Maria Hickman and her staff do a tremendous job understanding the schedules that our student-athletes have and accommodating them to have study halls open late in the evening and having tutors available. The student-athletes are definitely afforded great services at the Dodie (Anderson Academic Enrichment Center), and it shows that they are taking advantage of those resources.”

“I count Maria Hickman‘s staff as part of ours,” said track and field coach Curtis Frye. “Along with our compliance office, coaches, and athletics trainers; they all make a family. Having 80 kids like we do on our men’s and women’s teams is like having a football team. It’s hard to manage that with just our six coaches, so it speaks to the support we get from a whole family of people. It starts at the top with Coach Tanner.”

It was great for our team to be able to go and give back in a way that involved our sport.

Jordyn Augustus, Softball

Community service hours are tallied from April 1, 2017, through March 31, 2018. Each individual program determines how many service hours they will require of their student-athletes, but getting the Gamecocks to participate is never a problem. On average, each South Carolina student-athlete performed more than 14 hours of service this past year.

“I think it is part of the culture here,” said rising senior beach volleyball student-athlete Shannon Williams. “I’m on S.A.A.C. (Student-Athlete Advisory Council) and everyone is always sharing ideas about things they can do for community service that other teams may be interested in or can get involved in.”

Indoor volleyball took home the coveted Community Outreach Team of the Year award for the third straight year after leading South Carolina Athletics with a department-best 49 hours of service per student-athlete. The Equestrian program logged the most total hours with more than 1700 hours or service from its student-athletes.

“Our student-athletes keep each other accountable for it,” said equestrian head coach Boo Major. “There is a strong sense of wanting to give back to the community, and they really enjoy working together. We work with cancer patients at the children’s hospital with the horses. I know those kids get a lot out of it, but I think our girls may get just as much, if not more, out of it. They’re all animal lovers, so they do a lot with the animal shelters, too. The girls also go to Transitions on Sunday, and they’ve really gotten a lot out of being there and helping to serve meals to the homeless.

“We also did something with Families Helping Families around Christmas time, and I just think that’s wonderful.”

Bryce Kananowicz from men’s swimming led all of the Gamecocks with more than 550 hours. In addition to service efforts with his teammates, Kananowicz crochets blankets by hand and offers them as gifts to Hospice patients.

“Before class, after class, after practice, before bed, or if I have any down time from studying or swimming, I usually pull it out, and I work on blankets,” Kananowicz said. “I’m just trying to do something nice for people who are going through a hard time.

“Just being a kid from Coeur d’Alene (Idaho), this community embraced me when I was recruited and brought over here, so I just want to give back and help in any way that’s possible.

Softball’s Jordyn Augustus and Thomas Mayronne from men’s tennis were finalists this spring for the Brad Davis Community Service Post-Graduate Scholarships for their involvement in the community throughout their careers. Augustus tallied more than 240 hours of community service this year, which included spearheading her team’s weekly involvement last fall with the Irmo/Chapin Recreation Commission’s Therapeutic baseball team for children and adults with special needs.

“It was great. It really kept things in perspective,” Augustus said. “It was great for our team to be able to go and give back in a way that involved our sport, and to be around kids that were just so joyful. To be around kids and smile and laugh, it was a lot of fun for us.

“Being a student-athlete means a lot more than just hitting a home run or making the game-saving play that becomes a headline. Headlines eventually fade, and the game is coming to an end for me, but the person that I’ve become, the character that I’ve made, and the lives that I’ve touched in the course of getting involved in the community, those things will last forever.”

Mayronne contributed to the local community in numerous ways, including special efforts two years ago when the Gamecocks added honorary members to the team through Team Impact, forging a special bond with two local boys diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer and carried the relationship throughout the year.

“I wanted to do something that I felt would really make an impact on someone’s life,” Mayronne said. “Growing up where I was from in Louisiana, and the family that I’m from, helping others in need, there was always a lot of importance placed on it. I think I’ve carried that wherever I’ve gone.”

In addition to the individuals served by the student-athletes, there are numerous agencies in and around Columbia that have benefited greatly by the Gamecocks’ involvement, including Ronald McDonald House, Harvest Hope Food Bank, Transitions homeless shelter, and animal organizations such as PAALS and Pets Inc.