NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Not all championships are won on the field, court or course, as the Bethel College golf team proved.
The Golf Coaches Association of America informed Bethel coach Gregg Dick Aug. 1 that his 2011-12 team had been named academic national champion of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
To be considered for the honor, a team must submit a GPA of 3.0 or higher (the average of the GPAs for each player on its official squad list for the academic year). The GCAA names national champions in six divisions – NCAA Divisions I, II and III; NJCAA DI and NJCAA DII; and NAIA.
Bethel earned GCAA honors for the first time last year, appearing on the President’s Special Recognition list for teams from four-year colleges or universities with GPAs of 3.5 or higher. This year, Bethel is the only school from either the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference or the region to be named to that list (Dodge City Community College is the academic national champion for NJCAA DI).
Members of Bethel’s 2011-12 golf team were graduating seniors Jordan Esau, Hutchinson, Kellen Goertzen, Henderson, Neb., Eric Regier, Haysville, John Reimer, Hesston, Trey Ronnebaum, Wichita, and Cameron Voth, Goessel, along with senior Abram Rodenberg and sophomores Garrison Gundy and Ethan Rodenberg, all of Halstead.
“This is an incredible and well-deserved honor for this team,” Dick said. “I appreciate the GCAA recognizing the importance of academics and the role it plays in successful collegiate athletics.”
Last fall, at the team’s pre-season meeting, Dick said, “we talked about this as a team goal, because we had come close the year before. The guys took it seriously and continued to work hard and excel in the classroom all year.
“We struggled some on the course this year,” Dick added, “and I think part of that was due to the dedication this team had to academics. We had guys working at internships and student teaching, applying and preparing for grad school, along with trying to practice and play golf at the highest level they could.
“The thing that makes me as a coach the most proud of this honor is I know all of these guys will go out into the world and make a difference wherever they are, because of a combination of their academic preparation and competitive experiences as part of the golf team. Team success … can be measured in different ways. In my mind, this honor makes this team about as successful as you can get.”
The GCAA, based in Norman, Okla., was established in 1958. The nonprofit organization is the professional association of men’s collegiate golf coaches. Through its established events and programs, the GCAA maintains a goal of increasing awareness and the status of men’s golf. There are more than 750 members in the GCAA representing all three NCAA divisions as well as NAIA and NJCAA.
“Farmers Insurance is proud to extend our support of education … throughout the year,” said Chuck Browning, head of sponsorships for Farmers Insurance Group, which sponsors the GCAA academic awards. “It is … an opportunity for our agents around the country to get involved with our golf platform and academic institutions on a local level. We are proud to honor top performing academic men’s golf programs in the country.”
Farmers Insurance Group of Companies is a leading U.S. insurer of automobiles, homes and small businesses and also provides a wide range of other insurance and financial services products. For more information, see www.farmers.com.
Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2011-12 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2011-12. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA.