While the phrase is “student athlete”, there are some high school coaches that could care less if their players make the grades as long as they continue to produce on the court or the field. 

Webster County baseball coach Mark Spainhoward is not one of these coaches, evident by his Trojans being one of just 68 high school teams across the nation to be honored with the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Academic Excellence Award. 

“It's always great to be recognized for accomplishments such as these, and equally great that as a team we managed a 3.31 GPA,” said Spainhoward. “I'm proud of the boys for working equally as hard in the classroom as they do on the field.”

Spainhoward says that although he did not have any specific policies, he did do several things to ensure the best interests of his student athletes. 

“I don't know if it's really a policy, but from the beginning I have told the players that I want them to: 1. Be a good person; 2. Be a good student; & 3. Be a good athlete. Everything else will fall in place.”

“I made a point of talking to at least 1-2 players each week, when I got grade reports, about their specific grades, encouraging those who needed it to go to tutoring, and discussing school in general with players. Of course I couldn't do it alone. My coaching staff is also committed to ensuring success on and off the field.” 

Spainhoward was also quick to get across to his players that their studies take priority above all else.

 “Players are students first. Academics come first,” said Spainhoward. “Student athletes have additional responsibilities and commitments. They have to be able to balance schoolwork, and the demands of the classroom, with the demands of practice and games. I believe student athletes should be role models in and out of the classroom.” 

The next step forward in Spainhoward’s second season at the helm of the Trojans is to build off the academic success of last season. 

I'm going to make a point to stress what an honor it is to be recognized nationally by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), and to be included in a select group of schools recognized for academic success. My staff and I are going to continue to stress excellence in the classroom and on the field.” 

Reach CAMERON BROWN at cameronbrown647@yahoo.com