ST. CLAIRSVILLE The Ohio University Eastern Lady Panthers are on their way to another great season. The two-time defending Ohio Regional State Tournament Champions sport a fine 15-5 overall record and are in contention for a fourth regular season conference title in the last five years.

However, according to Head Coach E. J. Schodzinski, the most impressive statistic is the one that the team earned in the classroom. For the record, the Lady Panthers achieved an average overall grade point average of 3.12 as a team for the fall semester that just ended. This is a remarkable accomplishment, said Schodzinski. Our student-athletes compete in the classroom the exact same way that they do on the court and I could not be prouder of them. They truly are students first and fine representatives of Ohio University and the Eastern Campus.

Union Locals Alexus Davis and Monroe Centrals Casey Digity led the way and were named to the Deans List for their efforts. To be named to the Deans List, a student must earn a minimum 3.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale and take 16 hours or more during that semester.

In addition, Barnesvilles Jessica Hunkler and the Shadyside duo of Kelsey Holloway and Sarah Neavin, joined Davis and Digity on the ORCC All-Academic Team. To be named to the ORCC All-Academic Team, a student must earn a 3.0 and take at least 12 hours during that semester.

According to Schodzinski, the academic accomplishments of the Lady Panthers are even more noteworthy when considering that the vast majority of the players on the team also work part-time to help pay for their schooling.

Most of our student-athletes work 15-20 hours per week, said Schodzinski. In addition, every single player is a full time student and spends an average of 16 hours per week in the classroom.

Yet, Schodzinski noted these responsibilities do not include the additional time required for homework, tests, class projects, student clubs, basketball practices and road games. It all adds up to a very busy schedule that would challenge the resolve of most anyone.

Success can only be achieved by managing your time wisely, said Davis, a freshman majoring in exercise physiology major. My goal is to become a physical therapist one day so it was very important for me to get off to a great start in the classroom. I feel like I have accomplished that goal.

Fellow freshman Digity agreed. I play basketball because I love it, but I also realize that I wont be making a living at it. Education is my top priority and completing my degree in applied management is the number one goal.

In todays sports world filled with scandals and controversy, it is refreshing to know that the Ohio University Eastern Lady Panthers, a team stocked with local OVAC talent, has it all figured out. These hard working student-athletes realize that school comes first and have set the bar high. They are role models in every sense of the word and are to be commended for their efforts in the classroom.