BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — Heading into the 2014-15 scholastic year, Shenendehowa athletic director Chris Culnan said one of his main goals for the Plainsmen sports teams was for each of them to receive scholar-athlete team status from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.
Through this year’s fall and winter sports seasons, Shenendehowa still has a chance to reach that goal. Just recently, NYSPHSAA announced its honored winter teams and all 10 of the Shenendehowa squads made the cut.
“We’re right on track,” Culnan said.
All the Plainsmen varsity squads earned scholar-athlete team status in 2013-14, earning Shenendehowa a special honor as a school of distinction from the state for its academic excellence with its athletes. To qualify as a scholar-athlete team, a pool of players from a given team must combine for an academic average of 90.0 or higher.
“Our kids are very aware that you have to perform well in the classroom,” Culnan said.
For the winter season, Shenendehowa’s boys swimming and diving team registered a school-best average of 95.8, while girls indoor track and field (95.7) and girls Alpine/nordic skiing (95.4) were the runners-up.
Senior Katie Benson was on this winter’s ski team, competing as a nordic skier. A three-sport athlete — she plays soccer in the fall and does outdoor track and field in the spring — she said academics and athletics have always gone together for her. Her busy after-school life with athletics keeps her on a regimented schedule with her schoolwork, something she said helps her to be her most efficient.
“I actually find it harder to get homework done in between my sports seasons because I get unfocused and waste time,” said Benson, who said she has an average in the high 90s.
Junior Michael Gillooley said he gets help from a solid support system to make sure he keeps up with his studies while competing for the Plainsmen. That’s a good thing since Gillooley is another one of Shenendehowa’s three-sport athletes; besides playing basketball in the winter, Gillooley plays football in the fall and baseball in the spring.
“My parents are always on me, making sure I do my work, as well as my coaches,” said Gillooley, who said his average hovers around a 92. “The coaches, they’re making sure after late games or late practices that homework is getting done.”
Benson said she was proud that all the Shenendehowa varsity squads had hit at least the 90.0 mark this winter, while Gillooley said such an accomplishment shows the school’s athletes are just as capable off the playing surfaces as they are on them.
“Our grades are just as important as our athletic ability,” he said.
The following Shenendehowa varsity sports teams were honored for having a collective academic average of 90.0 or higher:
- Boys swimming & diving: 95.8
- Girls indoor track & field: 95.7
- Girls Alpine/nordic ski: 95.4
- Boys indoor track & field: 94.5
- Hockey: 93.8
- Boys Alpine/nordic ski: 93.6
- Girls basketball: 93.5
- Wrestling: 92.6
- Boys bowling: 92.0
- Boys basketball: 90.6