BRYAN, TEXAS — Since 2008, Rudder High School Volleyball's Head Coach Jacky Pence, and her Lady Rangers have aced it on hardwood and inside the classroom.
For the 13th year in a row, last year's Rudder Volleyball team were recipients of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) team award for academic excellence.
"I feel like all together we really do work hard in the classroom because student-athlete is not obviously just about the skill, that's important but being able to go further with what you want to do, you have to make it with your grades, so I feel like we are really good about that and we take care of it as much as we can in the classroom," said Neeley Rutledge, a junior on the Rudder High School Volleyball team.
Last year the Lady Rangers taking care of it in the classroom even during a global pandemic, receiving the Team Award in Academic Excellence for their 3.41 team GPA. The AVCA requires that the team have a minimum of 3.3 overall Grade Point Average and proof of the program's commitment to academic excellence to receive the recognition. The Rudder Volleyball has earned this prestigious distinction every year the school has been open.
"We were one of 39 high schools out of 4,000 almost in Texas. So, it's a huge award and we really stress weekly that they keep their grades up," said Kallie Donley, Rudder Volleyball Assistant Coach.
The Rudder Volleyball program works hard to promote excellence in the classroom, on the court, and in the community, which pushes these ladies to be the best student-athletes they can be.
"It's so good having the community behind you just so you can play harder, and you know you have more people to show out for," said Rutledge.
For the 2021 season, the varsity team only has ten girls on the roster as opposed to years past when the team has 12 to 14 girls. But even with a smaller roster this year, the coaching staff still expecting their athletes to be students first.
"Pressure is on even more because with a smaller amount of people [on the roster] you have to have better grades because you have less room to mess up," said Donley. "And we've told them that too, there are pros and cons to being a part of a smaller team and that wasn't a pro or a con but it was definitely a challenge to them to keep the precedent of making good grades."
The Rudder Volleyball team season starts next Tuesday against Huntsville.
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