College athletics is a big deal across America. Big and small schools spanning Division I to III and all the junior circuits bring students and communities together to cheer for these student athletes and watch talent that gets better and better every year. SUNY brings this type of talent all throughout New York State with more than 85 NCAA Division I, 290 NCAA Division III, and 385 NJCAA athletic teams, as well as hundreds of non-competitive athletic clubs.
But one thing we can’t forget about student athletics is the term student. These great athletes are also working toward a college degree that will open doors to many careers beyond athletics once they graduate. And when teams are made up of athletes that are top competitors on the field and in the classroom, we see the best of student athletics.
This year, a number of SUNY teams have reached new heights, earning recognition from Chancellor Johnson and the SUNY Board of Trustees for their achievements both in the classroom and in the game. Six SUNY sports teams won national collegiate championships last year, and along with that they each excelled in the classroom with outstanding grade point averages. The following teams were recognized for their accomplishments:
- SUNY Brockport Women’s Gymnastics Team– The SUNY Brockport women’s gymnastics team won the 2019 National Collegiate Gymnastics Association national championship in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Brockport Senior Candis Kowalik earned the title of NCGA All-Around National Champion, with a score of 38.400. This is the first time that a team from the East Region has won a National Championship hosted in the West Region.
- Herkimer Community College Men’s Basketball Team- The men’s basketball team at Herkimer Community College won the 2019 NJCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament in Rochester, Minnesota; the first time a Region III team has won the men’s basketball championship since 1993. Sophomore Derrick Felder was named Tournament MVP for his performance over the course of the tournament. Felder scored 23 points, and had seven rebounds, and three assists in the championship game.
- Onondoga Community College Men’s Lacrosse Team– The Ondondoga Community College men’s lacrosse team won the 2019 NJCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship in Batavia, NY, for the third consecutive year. Onondoga sophomore Frank Delia was named the tournament’s top defensive player, finishing with 19 saves in the national title game.
- SUNY Plattsburgh Women’s Hockey Team– The women’s hockey team at SUNY Plattsburgh won the NCAA National Championship this year, for the seventh time. Senior forward Courtney Moriarty was named tournament MVP, and was joined by Kassi Abbott, Annie Katonka, and Hannah Kiraly on the All-Tournament Team for their stellar performance.
- SUNY New Paltz Men’s Volleyball Team– The SUNY New Paltz men’s volleyball team won the 2019 NCAA Division III Men’s Volleyball Championship in Union, New Jersey. On the team, a few members stood out in the championship game- Aaron Carrk, who finished with 19 kills, Matthew Grace, who tallied 53 assists, and Robert Nolan, who had 12 digs.
- Suffolk County Community College Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Team– The women’s outdoor track and field team at Suffolk County Community College won the 2019 NJCAA Division III Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Championship in Utica, NY.
The students on these teams have excelled athletically, winning national championships and enhancing their campus communities. But they have all excelled academically too, reinforcing the term student athlete. Beyond athletic excellence, students on these teams earned an average GPA of 3.61, significantly higher than the average GPA for students at four-year colleges in the United States, which is a 3.15.
Congratulations to all our SUNY student athletes.