From book to beam: BSU Gymnastics holds highest collective GPA

It’s not always easy balancing both academics and athletics in college, but the Boise State gymnastics team makes it look like a breeze. For the past 12 semesters, the team has held the highest GPA out of all varsity teams on campus. 

This past spring semester, the team’s GPA was 3.96 with 12 of the team’s members having 4.0s. As soon as these Broncos step foot on campus, Head Coach Tina Bird has set expectations for every athlete that walks into her program. 

One of these expectations is prioritizing being a student first, athlete second. About 12 to 15 years ago, Bird set the bar high when it came to maintaining a high GPA and doing well in school. 

Graphic by Jordan Barno

“Whatever they need to be successful academically comes number one,” Bird said. “We set that standard and made that a priority with the team and they just really ran with it and took it to the next level.”

Another expectation that Bird has set for her team individually is for everyone to have at least a 3.5 GPA. This is higher than the required GPA of 2.5 for athletes. For freshmen gymnasts, Bird also requires that each student-athlete blocks out eight hours each week for studying. 

“It helps them build a good habit from the first year that they’re on campus,” Bird said.

Time management and organization are important factors in balancing a busy schedule. One way junior psychology major Alexis Stokes keeps on top of her schedule is by prioritizing study time and using a planner to have all of her assignments in one spot. 

“Someone once told me that you can’t really have all three [academics, athletics, and social life] as a top priority,” Stokes said. “With practice, we have set hours, but outside of that, I just make sure that I’m getting my school done.”

Outside of the classroom, Stokes is an all-around gymnast. Last year she set her career-high on beam with a 9.825. 

As an accounting major, redshirt sophomore Dani Shafer will be graduating this year and already has a job offer from a national firm. Shafer finds it important to complete assignments first in order to enjoy her social life and activities with friends. 

[Photo of a gymnastics meet from the 2019 season]
Photo by Mackenzie Hudson | The Arbiter

“I know that school is what’s going to make my future, so I definitely put a lot of priority on that,” Shafer said.

Bird wants all her student-athletes to know that, as long as they try their best, any grade is okay. They have received recognition from BSU and the NCAA as the number one team on campus as well as the number one GPA in the country for their sport three times. 

Both Stokes and Shafer advise any student-athlete that is struggling with academics or time management to make a list or create a schedule for every single day of the week for what needs to get done. They hope athletes can find times throughout the week to focus on school and try to get ahead. 

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