Junior Brandon Jaeger

UW-Stevens Point student-athletes excel in sport, classroom

Brandon Jaeger had a great hockey season with UW-Stevens Point. But his most recent accolade wasn’t for his performance as the Pointers’ goalie at the NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey Championship. It was for his academic performance. He received the Elite 89 award for having the highest cumulative grade-point average among all student athletes participating in the NCAA's championship in Lewiston, Maine. 

Jaeger, a junior from Champlin, Minn., has a 3.97 GPA. He also has a double major: accounting and business administration. 

While exceptional, he is not alone. Student-athletes at UW-Stevens Point have higher GPA on average than non-athletes. In the fall 2013 semester, 17 of 20 teams achieved a collective GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale. 

Student-athletes work hard to achieve success in their sports and the classroom. “It's an impressive balancing act the student athletes face on a daily basis to manage their commitment to their education and their commitment to their teammates,” said Ann Ninnemann, head women’s hockey coach. 

Her 24-member team’s GPA for the fall semester was 3.29.   

“Division III athletics is the epitome of playing for the love of the game,” Ninnemann notes. “The hours required to train and the expectations are very similar to DI, with no benefits or scholarships.”  

“Our student-athletes have three goals each day: first, a keen focus on academics and success in the classroom; second, being a better teammate and working hard at practice. Lastly, we ask all Pointers to think about how to make UW-Stevens Point and our community a better place for others,” said Athletic Director Daron Montgomery. He credited the coaches for keeping our student-athletes focused on these goals. 

Student-athletes typically train for their sport two or three hours a day. In addition to class work, many of them hold jobs, on or off campus. 

All student-athletes must manage time well to succeed, said Shirley Egner, women’s basketball coach.  “They have the accountability, dedication and determination to get their school work done.” 

The women’s basketball team has a 3.62 GPA. One player has a 4.0, and all are above 3.0. Of the 431 Division III women’s basketball teams, the Pointers have been in the top 25 for highest grade point averages, Egner said. 

Student-athletes are required to attend a 90-minute study table weekly. They learn helpful tips at each session – like rewriting class notes on “flash” cards that they can review between practices or while traveling. 

“This is true of student athletes across the board, male or female, indoor or outdoor sports: They’re dedicated to their sport, and they’re also dedicated to doing well in the classroom,” Egner said. 

The men’s basketball team, which was 28-2 for the season, had a GPA of 3.47 in fall. The men’s hockey team had a 3.12 GPA. 

Head Men’s Hockey Coach Chris outlines expectations to students considering UW-Stevens Point. “In our hockey program, one of our core values is to act like a champion athletically, academically and socially. Each of these three categories has equal importance, and as soon as one takes precedence over the next, there is a problem,” he said. If they are not interested or committed to this core value of our program, I am honest that our school and hockey program is not for them.” 

While Jaeger unabashedly says he chose UW-Stevens Point to play hockey for Coach Brooks, he also knows he can excel at both academics and athletics. In fact, his competitive nature does not like to accept an A-. 

Playing a sport also helps student-athletes develop skills that will give them an edge in professional careers, Jaeger said. “Working with a team every day, you’re building relationships, communicating, solving problems. As the captain of the hockey team, I have a leadership role. I know how to motivate people and get them to respect me.”