It's always nice to see University of Montana student-athletes kicking the "student" part into high gear.

According to UM Women's Sports Information Director Joel Carlson, the Montana soccer program was named a recipient of the United Soccer Coaches’ Team Academic Award recently. It marks the 10th time in the last 11 years that the Grizzlies have been honored and the 12th time overall, dating back to the program’s first award in 1998.

To be eligible, teams must have had a team GPA of 3.0 or better for the 2019-20 academic year. Montana had a 3.49 GPA last fall, while the Grizzlies were winning the Big Sky Conference regular-season championship.

The Grizzlies spent nearly two months on campus last spring, going through their usual off-season schedule before everything turned most unusual due to the coronavirus pandemic. In mid-March, campus was closed and students were sent home. Academics, meanwhile, carried on, through remote learning. Routines were disrupted, social networks disappeared, training, typically so structured, took on a do-what-you-can-with-what-you-have-available approach. The team responded with a GPA for the spring semester of better than 3.6.

In the words of Griz head soccer coach Chris Citowicki, “There were a lot of people who were stressed out and unsure of what was going to happen next.” Coach Citowicki did his best to guide his team from a distance.

"They had to figure it out and find a way to solve it. And they got it done.”

Congrats to those brainy gals who make Griz Nation proud!