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IU Northwest student-athletes are RedHawks who rise above

Much of credit goes to academic advisors, who help athletes balance sports with rigorous academics

Tuesday Apr 05, 2016

The average student at Indiana University Northwest has a lot to juggle. Most of them have jobs and family obligations in addition to their studies, making it exceptionally challenging to excel. Throw sports into the mix, and things could get pretty dicey.  

This is the reality of IU Northwest’s student-athletes. However, judging by their grade point averages, IU Northwest’s RedHawk players have handled this like champions. In fact, Director of Athletics Kris Schnatz reported a record-breaking semester for their Fall 2015 grade point averages.

“This past fall,” he said, “they posted a combined GPA of 3.1, the highest recorded combined GPA on record.”

Schnatz said that while most of the credit goes to the athletes and their work ethic, there are other factors at work.

“Our coaches have done a great job recruiting high character students who are academically focused,” Schnatz said, “Plus, we have had an outstanding collaboration with our academic advisors, Cynthia Robles and Elizabeth Laduke. “Over the last two years, they have helped monitor academic progress and aided our office in problem solving/student support regarding academic performance.”

Robles said that having another point of contact on campus to mentor them through their college experience is a huge benefit to the student-athletes.

“Elizabeth and I both struggled as undergraduate students, and being able to share our experiences with the athletes cultivated an element of trust between us that motivated them to really reach out to us and persist when different academic or personal barriers came about,” Robles said. “I think on some level there was this idea of ‘if they did it, so can we.’ ”

Schnatz said the Office of Athletics also developed Student Athlete Academic Progress Plans for each student-athlete. This is a new program implemented this past fall which he says has proven to improve the way student-athletes are monitored.

This past fall was a little different than previous seasons in that for the first time, all of the teams’ head coaches work on campus, which Schnatz says makes a difference in student-athletes performance both in competition and in the classroom.

Head Cross Country coach Javier Heridia became a full-time employee in July. Anna Villanueva took on the head coaching responsibilities after the third volleyball game of the season and completed the season as the interim head coach. Ryan Shelton is a part-time coach, but has a full-time position on campus. Schnatz is in his second season as the head coach of the men’s basketball team, splitting duties as the Director of Athletics and coaching.

With the exception of a part-time women’s volleyball head coach which the Office of Athletics is looking to hire, and a golf program that is just getting underway, the Office of Athletics is proud to say all of their coaches call IU Northwest their home base. Schnatz believes this is an important reason for our athletes’ success.

“We hope to develop future positions on campus that will include combining head coaches and assistant coaches into the fabric of our campus community,” he said. “I believe we have highly qualified professionals that would contribute to our campus success.”

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