Red Rocks score high marks in classroom

For decades, the U gymnastics team has continued to excel in the gym. On Monday, the Red Rocks continued to prove their success in the classroom as well.

Seven U gymnasts were named National Association of College Gymnastic Coaches’ All-Americans, including seniors Ashley Postell and Katie Kivisto, junior Kristina Baskett, sophomores Daria Bijak, Jamie Deetscreek and Stephanie Neff, and freshman Gael Mackie.

After learning of the awards, head coach Greg Marsden couldn’t help but feel particularly proud of Postell for making the list.

“Ashley, this year, had a 3.8-something and a 3.7-something,” Marsden said. “She hasn’t had some of the advantages others have had. She was home-schooled and didn’t have some of the preparation advantages that others have had.”

Postell had always done what Marsden said was “OK” in school, but she even admitted that school never really clicked for her until last fall. This was the first year she was named a national scholastic All-American.

“For Ashley, this is especially rewarding,” Marsden said. “She worked hard at it.”

Having seven scholastic All-Americans is a combination of the stress of academics by the coaching staff and the emphasis that each gymnast’s primary concerns should be on her schoolwork.

“With gymnasts, we’ve always realized that there is no professional gymnastics,” Marsden said. “You can be a coach, but you’ll never make any money in that. Most gymnasts come in realizing education is the primary focus. Gymnastics is just icing on the cake.”

During the past decade, Marsden estimated that his team’s combined GPA has ranged between 3.25 and 3.75. As a team, the Red Rocks’ combined grade point average for the 2007-2008 season was a 3.5192.

“Our rules are, if you miss a class, you don’t train,” Marsden said. “We pay for a tutor, we have study table, but ultimately it is their motivation.”

For all freshmen and other gymnasts who might be struggling in school, study table is a way for coaches to ensure that not only a strong educational foundation is established, but also that Marsden and his coaching staff can track how many hours their gymnasts are dedicating to studying.

Gymnasts assigned to the study desk must check in to the Burbidge Center-a 10,000-foot facility located north of the Huntsman Center-for a dedicated number of hours every week.

“We take as much pride academically as we do athletically,” Marsden said.

Although less well-known, but equally as important as their success on the NCAA gymnastics stage, the Red Rocks have a strong tradition among their alumni of continuing education beyond a bachelor’s degree.

“Many of our gymnasts go on to professional schools,” Marsden said. “Those schools are just as competitive (as athletics). GPA isn’t the most important thing, but it is one of the elements into getting into those schools.”

All 13 gymnasts qualified for the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll, which takes a 3.0 GPA or better to make the list.

Baskett, Bijak, Deetscreek, Kivisto, Mackie and Postell also made the U’s Dean’s List, which requires a 3.5 GPA.[email protected]

Anna Kartashova

After years of struggling with her grades, Ashley Postell was named a 2007-2008 Scholastic All-American by the NACGC.