The Xavier Prep volleyball team has a nearly decade-long streak of winning, and not just in athletics. The team recently earned the U.S. Marine Corps and American Volleyball Coaches Association’s Team Academic Award for the 2020-2021 season.
The award, which began back in 1992-93, recognizes volleyball teams that maintain a year-long grade-point average of 3.30 on a 4.0 scale.
As the head volleyball coach, Lamar-Renee Bryant acknowledges the importance of balancing sports and schoolwork, allowing the Gators to earn well-deserved recognition for their efforts. She said her student-athletes worked hard to make this award a reality for the ninth year in a row.
“We go to an academically rigorous school, so these girls have to put the same amount of work into the classroom as they do in sports. This award furthers the school’s mission: women of faith pursuing excellence,” Bryant said.
Bryant explained that time management is a crucial skill for student-athletes, and the volleyball coaching staff constantly reiterates the need to do academics first.
“We encourage athletes to meet with teachers and be on top of their assignments because if they are stressed in the classroom, they are stressed on the court,” Bryant said. “We want them to be aware and ask for support when needed.”
Bryant recognizes that the team’s achievements mean a lot to the school and that it’s essential to show their talent not only on the court but also in the classroom. It is something the Gators will keep striving for in the season ahead.
“We are still living in this crazy world, so the goals for us are to maintain both mental and physical health throughout the season,” Bryant said. “We want to be able to complete the season and play. We want volleyball to be an outlet for our girls to grow as they experience the stress of living in this unchartered territory.”
The team advanced to the quarterfinals of the 6A State Championships last year. Now, the champs are ready to get back to the game they love. Tournaments start in early November, with the state championship set for November 13.
The team comprises 15 talented athletes, including six seniors, five juniors, two sophomores, and two freshmen.
“Our seniors set the tone and work hard to carry on the legacy and teach the younger girls,” Bryant said. “I applaud our seniors for their efforts and how they reach back to continue traditions.
Bryant said the support of the school community and administration also helps Xavier volleyball succeed.
“We are so grateful for our Athletic Director Sister Lynn Winsor, Principal Sister Joan Nuckols, and President Sister Joan Fitzgerald, who all provide strong guidance for girls in the classroom and competitive arena of sports.”