The Drake University women’s basketball team has finished a winning season (20-11) with its most wins since the 2007–2008 season. They competed in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, losing in the first round to Eastern Michigan.
While they show success on the court, what is unique about this team is what they do off the court. Whether it is in the classroom or the community, the student athletes on the women’s team are as dedicated off court as they are on.
“These women are really taking full advantage of the opportunities they have at Drake,” said Head Coach Jennie Baranczyk. “What we do different is use this sport to educate them. It’s not just transactional. It’s about being able to use those tools to become better and prepare them for life.”
For starters, they are smart. The program ranked sixth in the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll for the 2013–2014 season. With a 3.571 team GPA in 2013–2014, the Bulldogs had the highest team GPA in the MVC. The team also earned the NCAA Public Recognition Award, which is given annually to teams that rank in the top 10 percent in each sport’s NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) score. It marked the sixth consecutive season the program has garnered the prestigious accolade.
Their GPA contributed toward Drake earning the 2013–2014 MVC All-Academic Award.
In between practices, games, tests, class time, and studying, the women also give back to their community. They spend their limited free time volunteering. In fact, they accomplished their goal of completing 1,000 hours of community service for the 2013–2014 season, and upon completion, the group immediately set a new goal to repeat more than 1,000 hours in 2014–2015, and have already completed over 600 hours. The team volunteers for organizations and events including the Central Iowa Shelter and Services, Grand Blue Mile, Habitat for Humanity, Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa, Team IMPACT, and more.
“We get so much support from our fans,” said senior Liza Heap. “We really appreciate them and one way to show that is through this community service work.”
Senior guard Kyndal Clark was one of 20 student-athletes in the nation to be named to the 2015 Allstate Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Good Works Team. She was not only the first Drake University student to get the honors, but the first athlete from the Missouri Valley Conference.
Additionally, Heap was honored with the Missouri Valley Conference Leadership & Service Award, An honor that seniors Carly Grenfell and Cara Lutes won previous years. Heap is a triple major in biology, neurosciences, and psychology and holds a 3.78 cumulative GPA.
Finally, the entire team is part of the Bulldog Club. For the past three years they have had 100% participation in contributing to the Annual Fund. “They are trying to form habits of continuing to give back and understanding the importance of private education,” Baranczyk said.
Heap credits her ability to juggle class, sports, and community service work to her coaches and professors. “They are really flexible and accommodating,” Heap said. “You really learn time management and the importance of planning your day. You can get a lot done in a 10–15 minute block.”