Melissa Krause • Williston Herald

Williston State College women’s basketball players, from left — Taylor McGrady, Jamie Gleason and McKayla Haugenberg. In addition to being region champs, the Tetons had the second-highest GPA in the nation.

The Tetons women’s basketball team at Williston State College is raising the bar when it comes to sports and academics. With a collective GPA of 3.67, the team ties for second highest GPA for junior colleges across the nation.

The NJCAA annually recognizes the success of student-athletes and this year has honored the Tetons for their hard academic work. 

To many, keeping grades up, working, and participating in a successful sports team can be taxing to say the least. To these girls, it’s like a right-handed layup — basic. “It was pretty easy, but schoolwork just comes easily for me,” said forward Jamie Gleeson. 

The women’s basketball team knows there is a reputation to uphold so they push each other on and off the court. “It was nice when some of us would have the same classes, and we’re living in the dorms together,” said shooting guard, Taylor McGrady. “I would see some of the girls studying so I would come out and work on homework, too” 

They said Women’s Head Basketball Coach Luanne Axelson had a lot of faith that the girls would perform well. “We’re the only team that didn’t have to send in grade reports,”  Gleeson said. 

“That helped because we didn’t want to ruin that,” McGrady added.

The girls said they had classes that proved to be a bit more difficult, especially when they might be traveling for an away game. “Sometimes you would be away for days but teachers would be understanding, so that helped a lot, too” said point guard McKayla Haugeberg. 

“The teachers make it really easy,” Gleeson said. “They are always available and are very understanding of athletics.” 

On top of their academic successes, the Tetons basketball team also made it to the regional championship. 

“In sports, everyone has to work really, really hard,” Haugeberg said.

The girls don’t seem to know how to slow down even in the off-season. Gleeson, McGrady, and Haugeberg all have continued their residence on campus throughout the summer. In exchange for staying in the dorms, they are part of the grounds crew that helps maintain the college campus. 

Both Gleeson and Haugeberg, have second jobs. Haugeberg also plays for a softball league throughout the summer. McGrady said her primary job is a part of the grounds crew, but she opted to take more college courses throughout the summer.

“We had a decent GPA last year, too, but we want to keep the tradition going” said Haugeberg. McGrady, Haugeberg and several other players graduated with both Associates in Science and Associates in Art degrees. 

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