Xavier College Preparatory’s volleyball team has a reason to celebrate this year. For the eighth year in a row, the team has won the U.S. Marine Corps and American Volleyball Coaches Association’s Team Academic Award for the 2019-2020 season.
“I was so honored and proud of my teammates for receiving this award because not many people understand the work it takes behind the scenes to maintain grades while constantly having practices and games,” senior Zaira Reyes said.
This award marks a significant achievement in both academics and athleticism. The 15-girl team must maintain a yearlong GPA of 3.3 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
“Coaches have the most influence during difficult times,” AVCA Executive Director Kathy DeBoer said. “Keeping student athletes focused on their academic success when their volleyball identity was suddenly gone is leadership worth celebrating.”
Since becoming the head volleyball coach at Xavier Prep eight years ago, Lamar-Renee Bryant has maintained a rigorous academic and athletic schedule that has led to this annual achievement.
“This award furthers our mission of women of faith pursuing excellence on the court and in the classroom,” Bryant said. It’s not always an easy balance for team members to strive for both good grades and winning on the court, but Bryant said she always pushes the girls to their best in both realms.
“I always push academics first,” Bryant said. “Students take advantage of the 8th hour at school when there are no classes, and I encourage students to do homework before practice, rather than coming home at 9 p.m. to do homework. We 100% talk about time management – during lunch, whenever there is free or downtime – so that they keep ahead.”
Bryant also added that she wants “to make sure these girls are academically and athletically strong. Academics is the most important thing to further their career goals.”
Although the team won individual awards last season, this is the only team-wide award, and the girls couldn’t be more excited.
“Our team works hard to strive for success both on and off the court,” junior Alexa Shiner said. “We are proud of this recognition. I am extremely grateful to be a part of this program.”
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, there was no formal celebration – but there was a lot of cheering, according to Coach Bryant.
The team is still hosting tryouts for the new season but will adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines and protocols.
“Volleyball is an opportunity for athletic outlets and helps create normalcy in life while competing at a high level,” Bryant said. “I am extremely proud of the girls and their hard work. Taking academics seriously is a requirement of being on any team at Xavier.”