Colorado Springs, Colo. - Northeast Mississippi Community College's ambassadors on the court or field of competition continue to gain acknowledgement for their successful efforts in the scholastic realm.
Seventeen players representing six Northeast sports programs received Academic Student-Athlete Awards from the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
Four Tigers collected NJCAA All-Academic First Team honors for maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average (GPA). Five earned second team recognition with GPAs between 3.8 and 3.99 while eight others garnered third team laurels for holding a GPA between 3.6 through 3.79.
In addition, three of Northeast's athletic programs that are sanctioned by the NJCAA also obtained All-Academic Team distinction for retaining overall GPAs at or above 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
"We are extremely proud of all the hard work by our student-athletes this past year," said Northeast athletic director Kent Farris. "Our coaches stress the importance of academic success leading to more opportunities for our athletes down the road. It is great to see them take that advice to heart."
The softball squad, which has now played in the playoffs 15 times in 17 seasons since transitioning from slow-pitch, compiled a school-best 3.18 GPA to achieve NJCAA All-Academic Team status.
The trio of Hannah Cox, Madison Davis and Molly Walden were decorated by the NJCAA for a second consecutive year. Walden of New Site High School led the way with a flawless 4.0 GPA to gain first team accolades.
Cox from South Lamar (Ala.) High School and Booneville's Davis both qualified for second team commendation with near identical GPAs. Davis tallied a 3.9 mark for the year while Cox, who won the prestigious Tiger Award as well, checked in at 3.89.
Janay Maxwell was dynamic on the base paths as a freshman for Northeast. The North Pike High School alumnus also made an impact in her studies and accumulated a 3.78 GPA for NJCAA All-Academic Third Team exaltation.
"We recruit athletes that want to be the best in every aspect of life," Tigers head coach Jody Long said. "It's about having expectations while pushing and guiding our athletes to reach goals and perform in the classroom and on the field."
The baseball club had the most individual honorees with eight men drawing praise for their work. Northeast also had the fourth highest GPA among Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) members at 3.15.
The Tigers had three that placed on the NJCAA All-Academic First Team, which was tied for second best in the Magnolia State. Ryan Holland and Eli Murphree from Lafayette County High School plus Josh Stillman of New Hope High School all recorded spotless GPAs.
Isaac Sparks was the lone second team delegate for the diamond Tigers with a 3.8 GPA. The Belmont native appeared in 26 games during his sophomore campaign and had two triples, which tied him for most on the team with three others.
John Murphree of Oxford and Caleb Todd from North Pontotoc High School represent Northeast's outfield on the NJCAA All-Academic Third Team. Murphree and Todd were solid defensively with only four errors combined in 74 attempts.
Ripley's Tucker Childers caught 11 runners attempting to steal in his inaugural campaign with the Tigers. He captured the NJCAA All-Academic Third Team award as well with a 3.73 GPA.
Max Ludka also attained his spot on the third team listing with a 3.62 GPA. The Traverse City, Mich., product had the most innings of any Northeast reliever with 33.1 frames in 16 outings.
"We are very proud of our guys that put forth the effort in the classroom," said Tigers head coach Richy Harrelson. "We really appreciate their commitment and desire to be the best."
An emphasis on classwork has always been part of the fabric of the tradition-rich women's basketball department at Northeast. The Lady Tigers did not lower their standards this year by acquiring NJCAA All-Academic Team honors once again with a 3.0 GPA on the dot.
Tyra Tucker of Calhoun City paced Northeast with a 3.83 GPA, which positioned her on the NJCAA All-Academic Second Team. The freshman guard averaged 6.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game for the NJCAA Region 23 semifinalist Lady Tigers.
"The girls have worked hard and are deserving of this award," Lady Tigers head coach Brenda Mayes said. "They have represented Northeast well and I am so proud of the effort they exhibited on and off the court."
Floyd participated in four MACJC tour stops during his freshman campaign with an average round score of 89.8. Waddell, who was the Tiger Award recipient for the golf program, had a season-best round of 80 twice as a sophomore.
"It's not a coincidence that two of the hardest working players during practices also were two of the hardest working in class," said Northeast headman Mark Hatfield. "Their classroom work only proves that they were both outstanding students. It was a pleasure to coach them both."
The football team had a very memorable season that included a top 10 finish in the final NJCAA rankings. An offensive starter on that team is among those being recognized for their intellectual achievements.
Hernando's Bo Canton amassed a 3.75 GPA to garner NJCAA All-Academic Third Team prestige. He caught eight passes from the tight end position, including a touchdown during a victory at Mississippi Delta Community College.
"It's a great pleasure to have a young man that enjoys the game of football as much as Bo does and that excels in the classroom," Tigers head coach Greg Davis said. "He worked extremely hard to carry the load athletically and the pressure academically."
A freshman that ended up becoming one of the best standouts in doubles matches on the women's side of the tennis program completes the list of national recipients for Northeast.
Sara Talley of Kossuth nabbed third team laurels with a GPA of 3.71. She was part of three doubles triumphs, including a pair versus rival Northwest Mississippi Community College, and also competed in the No. 6 singles slot.
"Whether it was studying on the bus or in between matches, Sara would not take her grades lightly," said Northeast headman Stewart Moore. "She is to be commended for this honor and I know her family will be as equally proud of her as I am."
The NJCAA had an all-time high of 6,006 athletes that accrued special merit for their educational performances during the 2016-17 academic year. Freshmen or sophomores with at least 24 hours of coursework were eligible for these prizes.