Fruita Monument volleyball player is True to her studies
Bri True is considering a career in medicine, maybe as a nurse, possibly as a pediatrician.
In order to achieve that goal, she knows her GPA is important.
“I have to keep my grades up to get into the college I want,” the Fruita Monument High School senior said.
True is also a volleyball player in the fall. That makes it a challenge to budget her time during the week.
She seems to be doing a very effective job of balancing her athletic and academic activities. True carries a 3.91 cumulative GPA.
True is the norm rather than the exception in School District 51 — the athlete who puts academics ahead of sports.
Fruita Monument had six Colorado High School Activities Association Academic All-State team champions during the 2007-08 school year.
Administrators and coaches aren’t merely concerned with wins and losses. Getting good grades are also important. Fruita Monument Principal Jody Mimmack sets the stage.
“It’s not Fruita Monument athlete, it’s Fruita Monument student-athlete,” Mimmack stressed.
She views the athletic field or gym as another classroom.
“I don’t think the learning stops when a student goes out on the playing field,” she said.
One of her favorite sayings is, “Coaches are just teachers with tennis shoes.”
Fruita Monument won Class 5A academic team championships in four fall sports last year — football, boys golf, boys tennis and volleyball. It also won academic state titles in wrestling and in another CHSAA-sanctioned activity, music. The Wildcats’ band earned last year’s 5A state title.
Those six activities incorporate a wide cross-section of the student body.
“My best hope is that all the students find a sport, a club, an activity,” Mimmack said. “I think we have a place where kids feel they belong, so that they feel connected to Fruita as their community.”
That starts with the coach, Mimmack said.
“I know you can’t be academic state champs without the coach saying, ‘school comes first,’ ” she said.
That’s certainly the case for True.
In addition to taking a full schedule of classes during the day, then going to volleyball practice or preparing
for a match after school, True spends at least an hour and a half each night on homework.
Among her classes this fall are pre-calculus, anatomy and modern literature, all tough classes, give er a heavy workload and lots of study time.
“There are mornings I have to go in and get pre-calc help,” she said.
“Our volleyball rule is one ‘F’ and you don’t play,” Wildcats volleyball coach Amelia Conner said.
Fortunately for Conner, she doesn’t have to ride her players much to keep up in the classroom. Since 2003, not one player has missed a match because of grades.
Boys golf coach Dave Fox has one of the more difficult challenges. During September, no athlete misses more class time for sporting events than golfers. As with Conner, Fox said having motivated students is a plus.
“The kids are really good about it,” he said. “I think more so this year, on road trips, I’ve seen kids in the van doing homework.”
Mimmack endorses an academic mentoring atmosphere from the coaches.
“If they see something, they say, ‘How can I help?’ ” Mimmack said.
Take, for instance, assistant football coach Clarence Ross.
Ross, who has taught math in the Grand Valley for 36 years and still teaches one math class at Mesa State College, is tutoring one Fruita Monument football player this fall.
Ross’ rationale wasn’t just in trying to keep the player eligible.
“I told him I would help him if he was interested in learning,” Ross said.
True realizes the more work she gets done now, the less she has to do in the coming weeks. That’s her motivation to keep up with her studies.
“I know if I slack off on it, I’ll just be more stressed later on,” she said.
Ross said that while teaching X’s and O’s is important, coaches have a higher priority.
“That’s the most important thing,” he said of making sure the athletes are also succeeding in the classroom. “That’s what we’re here for.”