Editorial: Excelling in the classroom and the athletic fields

The accomplishments of student-athletes grace the sports pages of this newspaper every week. Players unite for a common cause, at times leading to championships that inspire the community and reinforce a sense of pride in Mattituck, Southold or Greenport. The fire departments sound their horns as they escort winning teams back into town after big victories.

It’s easy to get swept up in their accomplishments on the field and court. After all, it’s exciting and fun. Everyone loves to see their local teams win.

Still, we sometimes fail to appreciate just how much work these student-athletes put into their academics on top of all the extra hours that go into a sport. This week was a reminder that those academic accomplishments deserve our cheers as well.

Consider Greenport High School, where the athletic department just learned it will earn a School of Distinction honor from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association for 2017-18. To earn this honor, every varsity team during the year must qualify for a scholar-athlete team award. To earn that award, at least 75 percent of an individual team’s members must achieve a collective average GPA of 90 or better.

Every varsity team at Greenport this year was a scholar-athlete team, according to athletic department secretary Joan Dinizio. And considering how many Greenport teams also include students from Mattituck and Southold, it’s truly an accomplishment for the entire North Fork.

It’ll be the first time a North Fork school receives this distinction. Applications are due by the end of June and NYSPHSAA announces the winning schools across the state in July. Shelter Island has earned the honor in the past, most recently last year, as has Bishop McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead, which earned the honor in 2010-11. In a given year, only a handful of Suffolk County schools earn the distinction.

In Greenport, a total of 16 varsity teams qualified, with average GPAs ranging from 90.05 to 94.88. That’s a lot of studying on top of a lot of practicing.

Well done, students.