75 Luther Student-Athletes Earn All-Academic Honors

The American Rivers Conference recently announced the Fall 2020 honorees for the All-Academic team, featuring 75 Luther student-athletes from eight different teams. Among these eight teams, four were crowned conference champions this semester: women’s and men’s cross country, women’s golf, and women’s tennis.
The men’s cross country and women’s soccer teams contributed the most student-athletes to the All-Academic team with 15 honorees each. Women’s cross country and volleyball followed with 11 honorees each. Women’s tennis was close behind with eight members, men’s soccer with seven, and football and women’s golf with four each. Director of Athletic Performance Miles Clifton credits both the student-athletes and the Luther Athletic department for this achievement.
“One of the cool things about Luther is that we have students who really do excel both in the classroom and on the athletic field,” Clifton said. “This is not by accident. The athletic department does a good job of prioritizing student-athletes as students first.”
Caleb Burjes (‘22), a member of the men’s cross country team, was selected for the 2020 All-Academic team this fall. He spoke on Luther student-athlete acceptance into the All-Academic team. .
“The thing I appreciate seeing is how many All-Academic people we have on the team,” Burjes said. “It’s something to be proud of and I think it shows that we do a good job of balancing athletics and academics. It’s impressive how consistently our team, and a lot of teams at Luther are able to do that.”
In order for a student-athlete to be eligible for nomination to the All-Academic team they must be at least a sophomore in academic standing and must have spent a minimum of one year in college. Additionally, student-athletes must obtain a minimum of a 3.5 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale.
Sports Information Director David Blanchard expressed that this recognition speaks to the excellence and achievement of all Luther students.
“The academic honors Luther athletes earn is a reflection of the entire Luther student body as a whole,” Blanchard said. “Of the 1700-plus students, my guess is that over half are involved in some kind of extracurricular activity, and for the majority of these, that activity is what was the final selling point as to why they chose to attend Luther. The only difference is that athletics has this kind of honor.”
Blanchard noted that the American Rivers Conference’s sports information directors created this award to recognize all student-athletes who met the criteria for their academic achievements, regardless of whether they were selected for the athletic All-Conference team. This sets the American Rivers Conference apart from other collegiate athletic conferences, which may only recognize academic achievement in student-athletes who also qualify for the athletic All-Conference team.
Clifton explained how the athletic performance staff strives to develop habits that will prepare students to excel on and off the field.
“The things that we teach in the weight room are much bigger than squats and deadlifts,” Clifton said. “We are teaching habits that help you be successful in any realm in life.”
Over the past few years, there has been a steady increase in the number of Luther student-athletes’ named to the All-Academic team. Fifty-one student-athletes were recognized in Fall 2017, 57 in 2018, 58 in 2019, and this year, a dramatic increase with 75 student-athletes recognized in Fall 2020. Head women’s soccer coach and Assistant Athletic Director for Resource Development Russ Schouweiler feels that Luther can support student-athletes by celebrating these achievements throughout campus.
“We have to have an understanding on this campus that being a student-athlete is a lot, and that the demands placed on student-athletes are more every year,” Schouweiler said. “This must be recognized by the entire campus. The hat that our student-athletes wear on this campus is multifaceted, and we need to recognize that they are excelling and celebrate this on the entire campus.”