Westminster Women Blue Jays Named Fourth in Nation on National Academic Honor Roll

The Women Blue Jays of Westminster College in Fulton, MO were named 4th  in the nation this week on an academic honor roll compiled annually by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).

The Blue Jays under Coach Tracey Braden finished with a team grade-point average (GPA) of 3.566 to receive this national recognition for NCAA Division III.

"Our team has made the commitment to academic success just like their commitment to athletic success. It is a priority of our program," says Blue Jays Coach Tracey Braden. "We view athletics as an extension of the classroom and each player takes special pride in this academic honor! These women have done a great job of balancing the work load both on and off the court and I am extremely proud of them."

Braden was named Coach of the Year this season by the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC). She has been the women's basketball coach at Westminster since 2007.

She was supported this season by Assistant Coach Clifton Cooper and Student Assistant Liz Klafeenbach.

Members of the honored Blue Jays team are: Amanda Kilgore, Festus, MO; Kasey Gatson, Vandalia, MO; Sadie Theroff, Jefferson City, MO; Stephanie Williams, Willow Springs, MO; Leigh Ann Lutz, California, MO: Tiara Pettijohn, Bethany, MO; Jacey Cornwell, Mendon, IL; Mackenzie Haddox, Washington, MO; Talisha Washington, Fulton, MO; Danielle Smulczenski, Springfield, MO; Kenna Cornelson, Oklahoma City, OK; Kayla Walters, St. James, MO; Kirsten Carney, St. Louis, MO; Lucy Heinrich, Tulsa, OK; Hannah Kloster, Springfield, MO; Laci Luff, Pea Ridge, AR; Megan McCaul, Rolla, MO; and Danielle Williams, Waynesville, MO.

Every year WBCA recognizes the academic top 25 women's basketball teams across the nation in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Divisions I, II and III, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and junior/community colleges.

Those 25 teams in each division or group are selected based on their combined GPA inclusive of all student-athletes on their rosters for the entire season.

Teams must have a 3.000 or better GPA to be nominated and must be nominated first for the honor by a WBCA-member head coach.

In Westminster's division, nine of the top 25 teams that earned this national recognition also earned a berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament. Westminster's team had the highest GPA of any of the 64 teams in the Tournament.

The top team on the academic honor roll in Division III, Gustavus Adolphus College, finished the season with a team GPA of 3.600.

"The GPAs produced this year by each of the top 25 teams are quite remarkable," says WBCA CEO Beth Bass. "The coaches of these teams have done a terrific job encouraging their student-athletes to perform their best both on the court and in the classroom. Congratulations to these 114 programs. I wish them each continued success."

The 2012-2013 season represents the 18th season the WBCA has produced these honor rolls.

Westminster's Blue Jay women finished their 2012-2013 season with a 17-11 overall record and placed first in the SLIAC for the third year in a row. The team earned a berth in the D-III NCAA Tournament but were eliminated in the first round of play.

Founded in 1981, the WBCA promotes women's basketball by unifying coaches at all levels to develop a reputable identity for the sport and to foster and promote the development of the game as a sport for women and girls. More information on the WBCA can be found at WBCA.org.