Over 90 College of the Canyons student-athletes filled the East Gymnasium on COC’s campus on Thursday, but they weren’t there for an athletic activity. Instead, each was there with friends and family to celebrate academic achievement.
“It’s actually very exciting,” said softball player Megan Wilson. “A lot of them have pushed me to become academically stronger throughout the years and it’s really nice to celebrate all together and with everybody that I’ve experienced this whole two years with and hopefully it’ll be a good night. I’m excited.”
All sophomore student-athletes were invited to the dinner, but a few were given special recognition for their achievement on the field and in the classroom.
The “Canyons Elite,” is a group of select students who meet the requirements of being in the top 20 percent for GPA on his or her team, being a major contributor on the team and being recognized by his or her coach as a leader. The “Canyons Elite” members also must log a required number of TLC (the learning center) hours.
Football player and international student Jumpei Dobashi was one of 13 “Canyons Elite” student-athletes in attendance. He was also given special academic recognition as an outstanding member of the football team.
“(COC) gave me an opportunity to play football with not just an amazing team at a high level but also get my associate’s degree and I can’t thank COC enough for that,” Dobashi, who had a GPA between 3.8 and 3.99 said.
“When I think of COC I think of home and that’s because of the amazing people here on this campus, the amazing staff on and off the field, my amazing coaches, everyone.”
Additionally, Nick Henry was recognized as an outstanding member of the baseball team, Toni Bito represented the volleyball team and Amanda Finn represented the cross-country team.
Women’s tennis player Una Stanisavljevic was the only student-athlete in attendance to achieve a 4.0 GPA. Stanisavljevic said that she spent many late nights studying after matches and often woke up early in the morning to get in some homework.
The West Ranch High School alumna is applying to attend USC and several schools in Boston.
“You have to be really determined,” Stanisavljevic said. “Not everyone can do it, so you have to have motivation to want to achieve something because if you did not then everyone is going to be slacking off.”
Former Cougars quarterback Wyatt Eget was taking his first trip back to the COC campus after beginning his college career at the University of Tennessee Martin. Coming back to campus gave him a new perspective as he recalled how he and his teammates pushed each other both academically and athletically.
“We’d be on each other about TLC hours, making sure we did that just so everyone was ready to play,” Eget said. “And we all push each other, you create a special bond with football here, everyone knows each other, we might play different years, but we all know each other. So we all had each other’s backs and that’s the most important thing.”