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BANNER YEAR FOR LUTES IN THE CLASSROOM

The Pacific Lutheran University Athletic Department continued to excel on the field, in the classroom, and in the community during the 2018-2019 academic year. The Lutes captured six Northwest Conference titles, volunteered more than 3,200 hours in the community, while all 19 programs maintained a grade point average above a 3.00.

“We have amazing student-athletes that embrace the holistic experience,” said Athletic Director Laurie Turner. “Academic excellence is one of our core values and our academic success demonstrates our student first approach and the priority our students, coaches, and staff place on academic success.”

In the classroom, the Lutes boasted a department-wide cumulative grade point average of 3.29, including a 3.33 GPA department-wide for the 2018 spring semester. 75 percent of Lute student-athletes earned a GPA of 3.0 or better, including 39 percent boasting a GPA of 3.50 or higher. Six programs had a team GPA above a 3.50 with the NWC champion volleyball team leading the way with a 3.71 GPA. Women’s basketball was close behind with a 3.70 while the women’s tennis program finished with a 3.61 GPA for the spring. Additionally 29 Lutes tallied a perfect 4.0 GPA in the spring.

In the community, all 19 programs participated in some form of community service, racking up 3,200 hours of volunteer work in the Tacoma area. Of the 3,200 hours around 800 came with the opportunities associated with PLU’s partnership with Special Olympics. 

In addition to classroom success and community involvement, the Lutes had a banner year on the field of play. Pacific Lutheran hoisted conference titles in six sports (baseball, men’s golf, women’s rowing, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, and volleyball) while placing second in the NWC all-sports trophy standings. The Lutes had 134 All-Northwest Conference honorees in 2017-2018 and boasted one national champion with Machaela Graddy winning the javelin at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships in May. 

The Lutes kick off the 2018-2019 seasons on Aug. 31 with men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball opening up their competitive seasons.

PLU SWIMMING PROGRAMS RECEIVE NATIONAL HONORS

The College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) recognized programs around the nation committed to academic success with the Pacific Lutheran University men’s and women’s swimming programs both receiving the CSCAA’s Scholar All-American Award. 

The PLU men claim the honor after finishing the spring semester with a 3.15 grade point average. The Lutes were one of five Northwest Conference squads to land the honor on the men’s side. The Lute women boasted a 3.58 GPA, the 29th best GPA in all of NCAA Division III and the best GPA among the six NWC institutions receiving the accolade. Whitworth University was the next closest NWC school with a 3.45 team GPA.

The Scholar All-American Team Award is awarded by the CSCAA to programs achieving a 3.0 grade point average or higher during the spring 2018 semester. A total of 476 institutions from across the NCAA, NAIA, and junior college ranks were honored. 

The Lute women finished runner-up at the 2018 NWC Championships this winter with Kaycee Simpson going on to represent the Lutes at the NCAA Division III Championships. The PLU men finished fourth at the NWC Championships.

PLU FOOTBALL TEAM VISITS SPRINGBROOK ELEMENTARY

By connections through Pacific Lutheran University Athletics, members from the Lute football team helped Springbrook Elementary School students understand that character is as important as athletic ability when it comes to being a student-athlete. 

Lauren Richards, wife of PLU assistant baseball coach Scott Richards, was experiencing a dilemma in her first-grade classroom. One of her students wants to be a football player when they grow up. However, the student was struggling with listening to directions, being respectful, and getting work done. Knowing the character of PLU football players, Richards reached out to head football coach Brant McAdams to see if his players could lend a hand. 

McAdams, along with Adam McShane and Hajriz Aliu made their way to Springbrook Elementary in Kent. The trio talked to the first graders about the problems Richards was experiencing. Following the conversation, the group participated in physical education activities. 

“It was an awesome opportunity to give back to the community,” Aliu said. “After the visit, I quickly realized that I learned a lot more from them than they learned from me. Answering all of the students questions about why I play football in the first place reminded why I started playing football when I was the same age.”

While the group may have spent a short time at Springbrook Elementary, their effort made a lasting impact on the children in attendance and their parents at home. 

“My students had an absolute blast,” Richards said. “So many of these students need positive role models in their lives and I really think that these students will always remember this day of first grade. The guys were so great with the kids and were so well spoken. It was so awesome for these kids to hear how we all make mistakes and how things aren’t always going to be easy, but it’s how to react to that and what we do to be better in the future. I have already had several parents message me saying that it was such a cool experience for their kids.”

After a visit from a few PLU football team members, the first graders at Springbrook Elementary will remember it takes physical abilities and character to be a student-athlete. The Lutes will kickoff the 2018 season on Sept. 8, heading to Thousnad Oaks, Calif. for a game against California Lutheran University. – by Christian Bond, PLU Sports.

PUGET SOUND NAMES JAMES NEW ASSISTANT ATHLETIC DIRECTOR

Puget Sound Director of Athletics Amy Hackett is pleased to welcome Jenee James as the Loggers’ new assistant athletic director. James will have primarily responsibilities for athletics facilities, game management, and assist with the department’s marketing efforts.

James brings with her a wealth of experience in athletic administration, as well as coaching and teaching, in the greater Tacoma area.  She recently served as the athletics and activities director at Mount Rainier High School in Des Moines, and was the commissioner of the North Puget Sound 4A softball league. James also held a previous appointment as the athletic director at Clover Park High School in Lakewood.  She has been active in committee service at the state and district levels.

In addition to coaching high school basketball and softball, James has experience at the collegiate level. She coached basketball at both Pierce College and Tacoma Community College.  James has also spent several years working as part of the Seattle Sounders’ and Seattle Seahawks’ game day operations and fan development staff.

James earned her bachelor’s of science from Central Washington, where she double-majored in administrative management and information technology, with a minor in communications/public relations. She is a four-year letter winner in softball for the Wildcats. James will receive her M.S. from Concordia University at Irvine in 2019. She is studying athletic administration and coaching.  

James is a member of the Washington State Coaches Association.

FIVE LOGGERS HEAD TO ITALY FOR BASKETBALL EXHIBITIONS

Puget Sound women’s basketball head coach Casey Kushiyama and four of his student-athletes departed for Italy, Wednesday, June 20, for international contests and a unique opportunity for experiential learning. Puget Sound is working with Beyond Sports for the adventure.

Elizabeth Prewitt and Meghan Hamel will both play for a U.S. team coached by Jeff Hans (Thomas More). Cassidy Daugherty and Jamie Lange are teammates on another U.S. squad, coached by Adrienne Shibles (Bowdoin College). Kushiyama is an assistant coach for both U.S. teams.

“Exploring foreign countries, playing basketball overseas, and creating lifelong memories with coaches and teammates is what being a student-athlete at Puget Sound is all about,” said Kushiyama, who has previous experience coaching U.S. teams through Beyond Sports. “I’m excited to be participating in another foreign tour with Beyond Sports. I’d like to thank Josh Erickson and his staff for inviting me back and allowing me this incredible opportunity.”

In addition to playing four games against local club teams, the five Loggers will enjoy several tours on land and on water.

Games will be played in Rome, Florence, and Milan. The U.S. teams will return home June 29.

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