Student athletes recognized at academic banquet

Coaches and faculty honored 54 Gators who accomplished a 3.5 GPA or higher in the Fall 2014 semester at the 2015 SF State Scholar Athlete Reception at the Seven Hills Conference Center April 21.

Apryl Guisasola, academic coordinator for the Gator Academic Resource Center and part of the NCAA Senior Woman Administrator, organized the event to honor each scholar athlete for their academic achievement. To receive the award, each athlete walked onto the stage with a professor who had a significant impact in his or her academic success.

“We want to honor the student athletes for their academic achievement and the balance between the academic component and the athletic component,” Guisasola said. “We also want to honor the faculty and the San Francisco campus community and how much they do to support our student athletes. We want to let our community know how well our students do.”

The featured speaker for the event was SF State’s first lady Phyllis Wong, who said she was very proud of the Gators’ outstanding academic achievements. As the room filled with applause, Wong ended her speech by mentioning the Gators have the highest graduation rate in the California Collegiate Athletic Association conference.

SF State Gator baseball outfielder Daniel Souza and the track team's captain Hilary King prepare to ask a few questions after the Scholar Athlete Reception at the Seven Hills Conference Center Monday, April 20. (Daniel E. Porter / Xpress)

SF State Gator baseball outfielder Daniel Souza and the track team’s captain Hilary King prepare to ask a few questions after the Scholar Athlete Reception at the Seven Hills Conference Center Monday, April 20. (Daniel E. Porter / Xpress)

Every student athlete must maintain a 2.0 GPA to participate in competition, according to the SF Gator’s Student Athlete Handbook. Any Gator who falls below a 2.3 GPA or who is a first-time freshmen is required to log three hours of study hall each week at the GARC, where Guisasola works with student athletes during academic advising or refers to them with resources offered on campus.

“I do a lot of one-on-one meetings talking about classes, advising for the upcoming semester, referring them to campus resources, working with students having difficulties and helping them with time management and organizing,” Guisasola said. “I definitely enjoy the one-on-one interactions with the students and I have background in counseling so I really enjoy working with them”

From the very beginning of his leadership as the University’s director of athletics, Charles Guthrie said he made it his goal to emphasize the importance of students athletes being students first and athletes second. As he looked around the crowded room and congratulated the Gators being honored, Guthrie said it is events like the scholar athlete banquet that demonstrate a positive significance in student athletes’ success off the field.

“This is just a reflection of what I signed up for which is to have strong academics,” Guthrie said. “When I interviewed nine months ago, I made it a point in my interview process to say ‘yeah we want to win championships but I’m more concerned with encouraging student athletes and making sure we set students up to succeed up out of college.’ Today’s event was a reflection of that.”

Among those Gator scholars honored was senior track and field star Hilary King, who recently broke the SF State school record in long jumping, and baseball outfielder Danny Souza. King walked onto the stage to accept her award with a speech about how she found acceptance within the criminal justice department and how she balanced being a full-time student and an NCAA Division II athlete.

“It takes a lot of sleep, a lot of water and staying positive really helps me get through the tough times being away from home and your parents,” King said.

Souza said he will miss baseball after his last season with the purple uniform and said that he would try to stick with the game once his time as a Gator has ended.

“I’m really exciting to graduate, college was a whole lot of fun, but at the same time I’m excited to see what’s next,” Souza said. “For the last 20 years of my life it’s been sports and school, and now the real world is coming but I’ve prepared myself well and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

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