The Northwest College women’s basketball team had a memorable season in 2017-18, winning 25 games for the first time in program history and advancing to the semifinals of the Region IX tournament. Several players on the sophomore-laden team earned All-Region honors, as well as numerous other postseason accolades.
Now recognition for that special squad has extended off the court, as the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association named NWC women’s basketball the top two-year program on its 2017-18 WBCA Academic Top 25 Team Honor Rolls.
The WBCA Academic Top 25 recognizes NCAA Division I, II and III, NAIA and two-year GPAs inclusive of all student-athletes on their rosters for the entire season. The 2017-18 season is the 23rd in which the WBCA has compiled the honor rolls. The Lady Trappers earned a cumulative GPA of 3.449 for the 2017-18 season.
“The WBCA is pleased to recognize those women’s basketball programs that have committed themselves to excellence on the court and in the classroom,” WBCA Executive Director Danielle Donehew said in a release. “The 119 teams we honor this year strive to achieve all-around success and we commend their efforts.”
Former Lady Trappers head coach Janis Beal, now the head women’s basketball coach at the College of Idaho in Nampa, said the honor is a testament to the hard work and dedication demonstrated by last year’s team in all areas of their lives.
“I think it shows the type of character the kids on this team had,” Beal said. “Sometimes when wins go up, the GPA goes down, so I think it speaks to their commitment to academics for them to succeed on and off the court.”
Calling the 2017-18 team “very special,” Beal said it was exciting to see accolades for the players extend beyond just their play on the court.
“For them to be able to receive that recognition, I think is very rewarding,” she said.
As Beal works to ready the Lady Crusaders for the upcoming season, she said her ties to Wyoming, and NWC in particular, remain strong.
“It was such a special year,” she said. “Staying in touch with some of those players, it was just such a great way to, in a sense, end that year by getting the academic recognition.”
NWC President Stefani Hicswa said the Lady Trappers have always represented the college well, especially during Beal’s tenure as coach. Recognition such as that given by the WBCA reinforces NWC’s image as a school that values academics and athletics in equal measure.
“For me, this is as exciting as winning a national championship,” Hicswa said. “Our women excel on the court and in the classroom. I am very proud of the hard work this collective GPA represents.”
For new Lady Trappers hoops coach Camden Levett, this latest honor simply adds another layer to what he knew was a top opportunity coming in.
“It’s a pretty cool deal for this team,” Levett said. “I’m coming into a program that had 25 wins on the court and a 3.449 GPA, and it’s a good spot to be a student-athlete. That’s something we want to keep going tradition-wise — winning basketball games and getting our work done in the classroom as well.”