NJCAA Recognizes Student-Athletes for Academic Excellence

On May 10, the day after PCC's spring commencement ceremony, more than half of the 17 Pitt baseball players who graduated from the college this year came out to campus in their caps and gowns for one last group photo at Minges-Overton Baseball Complex. From left to right, they are: Landen Harris, Martin Zelenka, J.J. Rivera, Caleb May, Harold Lee Watson, Will Walker, Matt Poole, Matt Osterman and Parks Ledwell.

CHARLOTTE—The NJCAA released its annual All-Academic teams Monday to honor student-athletes at the nation’s two-year colleges for classroom success, including 22 from Pitt Community College. 

All told, the NJCAA recognized 10,267 student-athletes for recording an overall GPA of 3.60 or higher during the 2022-23 academic year. The criteria for inclusion on its three All-Academic teams were as follows: 

  • All-Academic First Team: 4.00 GPA 
  • All-Academic Second Team: 3.80-3.99 GPA 
  • All-Academic Third Team: 3.60-3.79 GPA 

Nine PCC student-athletes were among the 2,702 nationally to garner First-Team NJCAA honors, and nine more were part of the Second Team, which was comprised of 3,347 student-athletes. Four Bulldogs joined 4,113 of their peers in earning Third-Team recognition. 

“The number of PCC student-athletes receiving high academic honors at the national level nearly doubled from last year,” PCC Athletics Director Dawn Manning said. “It shows that our student-athletes are not only committed to achieving their athletic goals, they are pursuing academic excellence as well.” 

Manning says she is proud of Pitt’s student-athletes for the hard work they’ve put in to succeed in the classroom and their respective sports. She said Pitt coaches and support team members “work tirelessly with student-athletes to create a culture of success by building character, creating relationships, teaching life skills and being part of a greater community.” 

Of Pitt’s first-teamers, five were from baseball: Michael Gordon, Parks Ledwell, Caleb May, Matt Osterman and Martin Zelenka. Three volleyball players – Sara Daughtry, Dakota Newberry and Bailey Wood – were also on the First Team, along with softball’s Brianna Knapper. May, Osterman, Wood and Zelenka had 4.0 GPAs throughout their two-year PCC careers. 

Earlier this year, May and Newberry received PCC Student-Athlete Awards in recognition of academic achievement, good sportsmanship, and the positive impact they’ve had on their teams and community. May, an associate in arts major, and Newberry, an associate in science student, received their honors during the college’s annual Academic Excellence Awards Ceremony. 

Representing Pitt on the NJCAA’s Second Team were baseball’s Thomas Bowman, Ryker Galaska, Will Gervase, Will Walker, Hunter Whitten and Evan Wyrick. Softball’s Samantha Taylor was a second-teamer, as were volleyball players Emily Fedderson and Lyndsay Williams. Four baseball players earned Third-Team honors: Landen Harris, Archie Herring, Landon Howard and Trent Pulliam.

In addition to announcing individual academic honors, the NJCAA also announced its 2022-23 Academic Teams of the Year this week. Nearly 1,100 teams posted a 3.0 GPA or better to earn the honor, including two from PCC: baseball and volleyball. Pitt baseball players recorded a 3.41 GPA, while volleyball posted a 3.17 GPA. 

For PCC Baseball Coach Tommy Eason, emphasizing classroom success is a key part of helping players grow into model citizens. “Our program does it the right way, on and off the field,” he said. “We also have strong support from the community and administration.” 

A total of 33 PCC student-athletes, representing all four of the college’s intercollegiate athletic teams, graduated in May. Combined, the 17 baseball, nine men’s basketball, four softball and three volleyball players recorded a 3.33 GPA.  

“I’m so proud of how our student-athletes performed in the classroom this year,” PCC Athletics Academic Advisor Brooke Green said. “Each year, they set the bar for the next and they push themselves to be better. Seeing all of the graduates walk across the stage this year was a testament to the hard work they have put in. I am proud to be their academic advisor.”

A complete list of student-athletes and teams the NJCAA honored this week is available at njcaa.org.