The award is a prestigious honor that many teams strive for each year, but for the GU women’s soccer team it’s their mentality going into each season, and the self-discipline within the team that’s gotten them here year in and year out.
The Gonzaga women’s soccer team made history this year by winning the Team Academic Award from the United Soccer Coaches Association for its 12th straight season. The award is given to teams with a grade-point average of 3.0 or above. Head Coach Christopher Watkin’s team earned a GPA of 3.47 this last season, putting them well above the threshold for the award.
“Their expectations for each other are what drive the success in the classroom,” Watkins said via phone call. “The culture within the department is what perpetuates this level and this standard.”
The team’s academic advisor Emma Moon, who’s been with the women’s soccer team since its first Team Academic Award, is a key player the team’s success and accountability in and out of the classroom. The team’s academic support staff set the bar high from the beginning, and each year the team rises to the occasion.
Senior defender Jordan Thompson credits the women who came before her and the academic support staff who are with the team every step of the way.
“When I came into the program 3.5 years ago it was expected that academics were one of our main priorities,” Thompson said via email. “This has been a tradition of this program since long before then.”
Thompson said she sees this award as recognition for the team’s diligence not only in the classroom, but as teammates on the field as well. This historic win for GU shows just how committed these women are to upholding this level of academic excellence.
“There is definitely an expectation for us to keep this standard going,” Thompson said. “I think it brings us together as a team towards a clear goal. We have a very clear vision and goal on the field, but we also have this vision and clear goal off the field as well.”
The team’s razor-sharp focus on and off the field are a testament to their tireless efforts to uphold and represent GU’s values in the best way possible.
“The players know this level is expected of them and they’re driven to uphold the standard,” said Watkins. “Expectations are awesome, they can self-police each other.”
With a year as up in the air as this one, the team’s goal of upholding academic excellence helps them narrow their focus and stay grounded and find the calm within the chaos.
“With so many unknowns this year, being able to focus our energy into academics throughout last spring semester and now into this semester was really reassuring,” Thompson said “It gave us a sense of normalcy when everything was far from it.”
The team is looking forward to working hard on and off the pitch, and training is in full swing for their season, which starts on Feb. 3.
COVID-19 restrictions have brought new challenges the team has had to overcome, as they can’t have more than five girls on the field at a time, and no contact is allowed. While Watkins is frustrated with how these regulations interfere with practice, he’s confident in the team’s ability to adapt to these new requirements and stay just as focused and competitive as in any other year.
Thompson sees these new challenges as just another opportunity for growth, both on the pitch and in the classroom. The team’s goals of winning the West Coast Conference championship and making it to the NCAA tournament remain the same as in any other year.
“Our team is working super hard right now both academically and on the field,” Thompson said. “We are super excited for the upcoming season and we can’t wait to get back to competing.”