Colorado Springs, Colo. - Players from across Northeast Mississippi Community College's athletic department have reached the pinnacle of achievement for their dedication in the scholastic realm.
Fifteen players representing three Northeast sports programs were acknowledged with Academic Student-Athlete Awards from the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
Four Tigers gained NJCAA All-Academic First Team honors for maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average (GPA). Five garnered second team laurels with GPAs between 3.8 and 3.99 while six others earned third team recognition for holding a GPA between 3.6 and 3.79.
In addition, Northeast's softball program obtained NJCAA All-Academic Team status for the fifth consecutive season and the sixth time in the last seven years for retaining an overall GPA of 3.49 on a 4.0 scale.
"I am very proud of all our student-athletes and the manner in which they represent us," said Northeast athletic director Kent Farris. "The tradition of excellence of Tiger athletics in the classroom continues and we hope to be even more successful in the future."
Softball also had the most individual honorees with 10 ladies drawing praise for their work. South Pontotoc High School alumnus Mackenzie Denton topped that list with first team accolades for a flawless 4.0 GPA.
Frazier of Blue Springs and Harris from Pearl River Central High School were on the second team with identical GPAs of 3.87. The trio of Athens, Ala., native Tarpley, Gibson from Marshall Academy and Wallace of Killen, Ala., recorded GPAs of 3.78, 3.77 and 3.66, respectively, for third team commendations.
Hernando's Kylee Jordan was the lone outfielder represented for Northeast with a 3.81 GPA and second team prestige. Catcher Lizzy Van Manen of Pella, Iowa, rounds out the list of acclaimed softball players on the third team with a GPA of 3.72.
"From the very first conversation we have with a recruit, we really put an emphasis on academics," Northeast head coach Jody Long said. "Our players tend to be those who are 100 percent committed to every phase and aspect of life. When you strive and work to be your best then rewards like these happen."
The baseball squad, which returned to the playoffs this past spring for the seventh time in the previous 12 seasons, had four players capture NJCAA Academic Student-Athlete Awards.
Freshmen Jake Christa of Huntsville, Ala., and Caleb Griffin from Starkville Academy performed admirably in their roles as starting pitchers for the Tigers. They both dominated in their studies as well with pristine 4.0 GPAs for first team laurels.
"I'm very, very proud of these young men," said Northeast head coach Richy Harrelson. "They put forth tremendous effort both on the field, in the classroom and in the community. They did everything we asked them to do."
One of the smartest players on a football team traditionally is the quarterback with an entire playbook to learn and multiple decisions to make on each snap. That certainly proved to be the case for Northeast last fall.
Caleb Kitchens, who hails from Tupelo Christian Prep, compiled a 4.0 GPA to claim first team acknowledgement. He is one of only 18 gridiron athletes nationally and just three in the Magnolia State to hold a spotless GPA.
"Caleb is a very strong willed person that is well deserving of this honor," Northeast headman Greg Davis said. "He worked extremely hard in the classroom. His dedication towards success is extraordinary and we wish him the very best."
The NJCAA had an all-time high of 6,306 athletes that accrued awards for their educational efforts during the 2017-18 academic year. Freshmen or sophomores with at least 24 hours of completed coursework were eligible for these prizes.