When it comes to doing homework and taking tests, Oxford High School’s varsity softball team is constantly swinging for the fences and it has the impressive grade point average (GPA) to prove it.
Last week, the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association informed the ladies that out of the 187 Division I teams, their team GPA of 3.8162 is the highest.
“Before you here today is the best of the best,” said Oxford Athletic Director Jordan Ackerman during a press conference held May 1 at OHS.
Five players on the 14-member team have GPAs of 4.0 or higher. They are seniors and co-captains McKenzie Miller and Chloe Allen, junior Gabby Dinges, sophomore Maddy Lovins and freshman Olivia Makarewicz.
“I always want to be the best that I can be and I never want to sell myself short in any areas of my life,” said Chloe Allen.
“I’m real proud of you guys,” said Kenny Allen, head coach of the softball team and Chloe’s father.
To Miller, who is the Class of 2019’s valedictorian, having the highest team GPA in Division I “means more than anything that we could achieve playing.”
“We’re all here for school,” she said. “Softball is a privilege. School is our main focus.”
According to Coach Allen, the journey to reach this point began about five years ago when the team set a goal to “have the highest GPA of all the sports programs (at) our school.”
Once that was achieved, the team decided it wanted to become the best in the state.
“And you guys did it,” Allen said.
He explained the key was building a “culture” of “trust” where players can admit to each other when they’re “struggling” in a particular subject without having to worry about being “picked on or made fun of.” Each player knows if she’s having a problem, the other girls will be there to “lift you up.”
“We come together as a team. If one’s struggling, we rally around (her) and try to figure it out,” Allen said.
“To me, it’s just about making sure (everyone knows) they’re supported,” Miller said. “I do my best to make sure (every player knows) we care about them as people . . . There’s a lot of team bonding. We hang out as a team all the time. We’re friends outside of the season.”
Coach Allen expressed his gratitude to the athletic department for setting “a very high bar” when it comes to ensuring student-athletes do well academically.
“We get everyone’s grades every week, so we know how they’re doing,” he said.
Athletic Director Jordan Ackerman said “the focus needs to be” on excelling in the classroom because “there are so many more academic scholarships” available than athletic ones.
Ackerman said so many parents believe sports is the ticket to their children getting “full-ride” scholarships, but the reality is, “that’s not going to happen” in most cases.
Just because Oxford’s softball team has reached the top of the mountain academically, don’t expect it to rest on its laurels.
Allen said the team will set a new goal and strive to attain it.
“We don’t ever want to stay the same. We always want to get better,” he said. “So, we’re at 3.8162 . . . maybe (we’ll) see if we can get it up to 3.9.”