Not all heroes wear capes, some wear royal blue and grey jerseys

CNU Men’s Basketball and Women’s Soccer named “Programs That Inspire”

~Matthew Morhiser, Sports Editor~

Two weeks ago in late Oct., two of Christopher Newport University’s (CNU) most storied sports programs found themselves in lofty company. This time, however, it was not for their natural prowess or physical abilities on their sports’ field of play. Instead, it was more for what they have done off the court. The Men’s Basketball and Women’s Soccer teams of CNU were listed amongst the College Athletic Advisor’s “Programs That Inspire.” The College Athletic Advisor, which acts as a consultant and counselor for both high school and college athletes, created the list of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 2 and below universities to rank the most prominent universities for athletics in four key areas. Directly from their website, they list the four criteria for inclusion in the ranking as: 

  1. Holistic development of student-athletes in the institution. 
  2. Academic achievement & support for the academic success of student-athletes. 
  3. Overall college experience for participants within the program. 
  4. Affordability/Graduation Rates/Student Satisfaction. 

Of the over 1,500 colleges and universities that were eligible to make the list, CNU’s Men’s Basketball and Women’s Soccer were selected to be within the top 20. Men’s Basketball was ranked no. 12, and Women’s Soccer is listed at no. 3 overall. As is human nature, it only makes sense to address who the College Athletic Advisor ranked as no. 1 in each category. They listed NCAA Division 3’s the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh as the best university or college at blending the four components listed above for men’s basketball. The website also listed the Herons of NCAA Division 3’s William Smith University in Geneva, New York as the leading women’s soccer program and college amongst the eligible candidates. The College Athletic Advisor admits the list is ultimately subjective, but it does, according to their website, “present an informed starting point for a discussion about where student-athletes can excel as ‘triple-threat’ competitors (academics, athletics and socially) in college and in their future lives.” 

The excellence of CNU athletes should come at no surprise to any of us here on campus, or given the current circumstances of the world, virtually on campus. The athletes of CNU have a history of exceeding on the field and in the classroom. Earlier this year on July 17, six players of the university’s Men’s Basketball team, as well as the team in its entirety, were awarded academic achievements and honors from the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). Jason Aigner, Cutch Ellis, Brock Geiman, Liam Harrington, Tyler Trimble and Timmy Woollum were each awarded for their academic excellence and 3.0 or above Grade Point Average (GPA) during the 2019-20 campaign. Ellis and Geiman are now graduates and alumni of CNU, but they, along with the rest of the 2019-20 Captains Basketball team, were bestowed with the NABC Team Academic Excellence Award as well. 

Similarly, the Women’s Soccer team received comparable honors for their scholarly achievements. On Sept. 29 of this year, CNU Women’s Soccer were selected by the United Soccer Coaches as one of the 889 college teams around the country that achieved a team GPA of 3.0 or higher. This distinction for CNU Women’s Soccer marked the fourth consecutive year they easily achieved the feat. According to, the team finished with a combined and calculated GPA of 3.30. Additionally, 21 of CNU’s female soccer players made up the Capital Athletic Conference’s (CAC), the conference they play for, All-Academic Team. That means, individually, each of the CNU students had a GPA of at least 3.20. The list of women included the now graduated Maddy Belanger and Carson Pakorny. And most recently on Oct. 24 of this year, the team was selected as one of only nine schools’ soccer programs to be recipients of the United Soccer Coaches Pinnacle Award for their excellence in the classroom and on the pitch. 

The CNU Men’s Basketball team is coming off a season where they finished 23-6. They finished as no. 17 in the final national poll conducted by, and Basketball Times Magazine recently ranked the Captains at no. 12 in the country in their preseason national poll. The CNU Women’s Soccer team finished their season at no. 7 in the country with an overall record of 16-4-2. They advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division 3 Women’s Soccer Championship. 

While the future for these two teams seem uncertain as far as when they will suit up next for a crowd of strong and proud CNU Captains faithfuls, it is imperative their academic and social achievements do not go unnoticed. If the COVID-19 outbreak and pandemic has taught us anything, in spite of its horrific nature and vulgar effects, citizens of the United States need to be more unified and understanding of each other now more than ever before. Luckily, with their “Programs That Inspire” designation and perennial collectively earned academic honors, the athletes of CNU are setting the right example. 

CNU athletes academic achievements obtained from:

“Programs That Inspire” information obtained from their official website: 

CNU teams’ 2019-20 results obtained from:

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