Lehigh women’s basketball has enjoyed great success on the court the past two seasons.
But, as solid as their play has been, it’s the team’s excellence in the classroom that has earned them high marks from the Patriot League.
With a 3.67 average GPA, the team finished 2020 tied for the highest GPA in the Patriot League and tied for No. 15 in Division I.
This latest accolade comes on top of the 20 regular season games the team won in 2018-19 before falling short in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament. The 2019-2020 Mountain Hawks again made the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament before the season got cut short due to COVID-19.
Their success in the classroom stems from a culture created by the team’s coaching staff and upperclassmen that has trickled down throughout the whole roster.
Junior captain Emma Grothaus said head coach Sue Troyan’s mentality and flexibility gives her student-athletes the opportunity to thrive in the classroom.
“If we have a lab or a class that runs late, she does not hold you accountable to that,” Grothaus said. “She is so amazing when it comes to school first. She really drives home the ideas to get your work done.”
The coaching staff emphasizes that academics come first and stands behind those words by providing academic resources to the team, as well as scheduling as few travel days as possible.
Grothaus says she feels lucky that in the two years she’s been at Lehigh she’s only had to miss a total of six days of class.
These travel days are a main reason student-athletes can potentially fall behind during the season, said junior guard Megan Walker. By limiting the number of missed classes, the coaching staff helps ensure their team can keep up with the academics.
Walker said she utilizes the tutoring programs Lehigh provides in almost every class she takes as well as the additional study spaces provided to the team, like the student athlete lounge and team room.
“We will get which days were missing in advance so we can tell our professors in advance,” Walker said. “Going to office hours the day before we leave or the day we get back to catch up on what we are going to miss definitely helps me.”
The leadership of the team captains has also been crucial in making sure every team member prioritizes their academics.
Even with the women’s basketball team having a variety of different majors, the captains still organize study sessions no matter if the team is on the road or at home to help foster a school-first environment.
Frannie Hottinger, a sophomore guard and forward, said the culture that is ingrained in the whole roster creates an environment where no team member wants to be the one who lets the rest of the team down.
“We all want to follow along to create this ongoing culture of people working hard and taking school seriously,” Hottinger said.
Hottinger is now a TRAC fellow, a program for talented student writers who are selected to work as peer tutors in courses across different disciplines. She credits this achievement to her older teammates, Walker and senior guard Mary Clougherty.
“I was expecting the academic piece to be individual, where everyone did stuff on their own,” Hottinger said. “In real life, academics are a big part of the team, too, and a big part of conversations and a big part of what we did with each other (in 2019-2020).”