On a gymnasium wall in Harrison, a poster reads, “First in the classroom. First on the floor.” The Harrison-Willow Creek girls’ basketball team held true to this standard of academic excellence and was recently recognized with the Montana High School Association/Montana Army National Guard Academic All Team Award. The Wildcats finished the winter 2012-2013 season with a 3.921 grade point average to take top honors out of all the Class C girls’ basketball teams across the state.
“I have been blessed to coach some outstanding ladies and they have always taken their academics seriously. The girls are self-motivated on and off the court,” said Wildcats’ coach Lisa Cooper. “Every preseason each individual and the team sit down and write down their goals for the season, and then I tell them my goals. My goals always have one constant and that is that I would like for every team member to make the academic all-state team. “
The award is given to the top three teams that exhibit outstanding academic achievement during the school year’s fourth quarter of play for that activity and is awarded at all levels of competition – varsity, junior varsity, sophomore, and freshman – in each MHSA schools’ classification – AA, A, B, and C. MHSA member schools calculate their students’ accumulative average for the award. Winter selections are determined using only students who have participated in second quarter activities including basketball, winter spirit, drama, speech and debate, swimming, and wrestling.
“The MHSA/Montana Army National Guard are dedicated to making sure academics are a priority and are proud to recognize academic achievements by our student activity participants on the team level,” said MHSA Assistant Director Scott McDonald.
According to MHSA, the award was established because other academic excellence awards recognized schools and individuals so there was a need for an award for teams.
A presentation of the certificate award to the team has not been completed or scheduled yet.