Maybe Brownstown Central’s girls basketball nickname should change from the Braves to “The Intellectuals.”
Coach Brandon Allman had the X’s and O’s covered, but the 13 members of the team were also on top of the 24 other letters in the alphabet.
The players’ knowledge of A’s through Z’s also nicely complemented numbers 1 through 75, or whatever was necessary to fill a math test — and a box score while compiling a school-record 26-4 mark this winter.
From language arts to U.S. history to math, the Braves always scored big, their team grade-point average of more than 3.8 on a 4.0 scale book-ending on-court accomplishments with high achievements in the classroom. Maybe call them “The Genius Team.”
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“It’s impressive,” Allman said. He claimed the players only “got their basketball knowledge from me,” nothing on those other subjects they also excelled in.
For cynical fans who belittle the description “student-athletes” applied to sports participants, thinking they goof off in school, the Braves produced an in-your-face answer more vivid than a blocked shot in the paint.
As every member of the team ran up the score in grades, the squad’s brains were recently recognized with an award from the Hoosier Basketball Coaches Association’s Honors Court.
Players’ grades ranged from a low of 3.3 to a high of bonus tenths added to 4.0. That proved while it may be impossible to truly give 110%effort, it is possible to go higher than perfection in the classroom by taking advanced placement courses.
Often, a coach mentions how everyone contributed to the win and it was a team effort. This was literally true. There were not just a few players, but everyone uplifted the GPA.
Seniors Zoe Fountain, Ashley Schroer and Halle Hehman, juniors Katherine Benter and Avery Koch, sophomores Zoe Stuckwisch, Hannah Stahl, Kelsey Wischmeier, Andrea Bair and Emma Klinge and freshmen Maddy Hackman, Kalee Borden and Cam Thompson could double-team teachers as effectively as their opponents’ best outside shooters.
The Braves lived the Greek ideal of the sound mind and the sound body, physically polishing off members of the Mid-Southern Conference in hoops while simultaneously devouring homework with the same enthusiasm as they absorbed game plans.
However, while each contest result was evident after 32 minutes on the court, the girls did not know precisely how well their teammates were faring digesting lectures, penning papers or pouring over textbooks.
They were unaware of the grade-point accomplishment until well after their final shower of the season when coach sent out alerts informing them of another way they made him proud during the 2019-20 season.
“Wow! That’s crazy,” is what Klinge, a point guard, first thought upon absorbing the news. “You don’t see many teams get that. He (Allman) always told us school should come first.”
Every coach is expected to impart that message. Some teams embrace it with enthusiasm and some teams probably go “Yeah, yeah.” Allman, though, did not really know he had a bunch of young Madame Curies, Rosa Parks’, Jane Austens and Amy Klobuchars crowding his roster.
“We all know we’re pretty good students,” said Fountain, who is one student with a 4.0-plus GPA. “I wasn’t surprised.”
Fountain, who plans to attend Indiana Wesleyan University and play softball, said doing well in school and in sports is all about time management. The days go like this: School, practice, “grab a bite to eat” and homework until bedtime. Fun gets the leftovers.
Benter said players held “their classmates responsible” by providing nudges to study when warranted. But to have all players come through with high grades?
“It’s pretty special when you get 13,” Benter said.
Since she has taken AP chemistry, AP history and AP language arts and regular old trigonometry, Benter did her part. She and Koch took all of the same classes and collaborated on study time.
Freshman Maddy Hackman walked into this team atmosphere where bus trips may be as much about homework as sleeping, and it suited her.
“I think we’re all pretty academically sound,” Hackman said.
For this group, collecting an A in class is like collecting double-figure points in a game.