The Valparaiso University men’s golf team was recognized by the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) on Friday for its sustained success in the classroom.
The Crusaders received President’s Special Recognition, an honor given to teams that achieve a grade point average of 3.5 or better. They are one of 24 Division-I programs in the nation to earn the distinction for the 2017-2018 academic and athletic year.
This marks the seventh straight season the Crusaders have achieved President’s Special Recognition and the eighth consecutive year they have been recognized by the GCAA as an all-academic team (GPA of 3.0 or better).
“This is a tremendous honor for our team and we are grateful for being recognized on a national level for our players’ accomplishments in the classroom,” head coach Dave Gring said. “It's an important part of our team identity to be leaders in our athletic department and in our conference for academic standards. Every year, our guys want to be champions in our conference, in the classroom and in service to our community and they continue to find a way to get it done.”
Valpo men’s golf also received the NCAA Public Recognition Award for academic excellence this year. Senior Michael Doherty (Lisle, Ill. / Naperville North) was named to the Missouri Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete First Team, while junior Mitchell Wittmann (Kaukauna, Wis. / Kaukauna) received MVC Scholar-Athlete honorable mention. Doherty and Zach Cutler (O’Fallon, Mo. / Timberland) set the tone for the team’s academic priorities with their senior leadership.
“I continue to have such a deep admiration for the balance that our players show every day, dedicating the countless hours of classroom studies and homework along with the demands of our practice and tournament schedule,” Gring said. “This past year, we were blessed with our two senior captains leading our team by example, with Michael Doherty and Zach Cutler graduating with honors, Summa Cum Laude and Cum Laude, respectively. We have an exceptional group of young men who are talented on many levels, and I'm very happy for each of them.”
Continuing the program’s streak of President’s Special Recognition adds to a rich history of academic excellence for Valpo men’s golf. The Crusaders finished with the top team GPA in the nation in 2015-2016. The program has also thrived on the course in recent years, highlighted by a 2013 Horizon League title.
“At the beginning of every school year and season, our coaching staff sits down and reviews the goals of each of our players - athletic, academic and personal,” Gring said. “The guys recognize the importance of the quality education that they receive at Valpo and they combine that with a deep desire to be one of the top GPAs in the country among Division I golf programs. In the last five years, we have been blessed with a conference championship and a national academic championship. Someday, we aspire to enjoy a championship in both in the same year.”