UW-Eau Claire athletes among best in nation

Story by Zack Katz, Copy Editor

Out of the roughly 440 Div. III schools in the nation, UW-Eau Claire ranks number 17 in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup Standings for the school’s athletic accomplishments in the fall sports season.

By measure of points earned in NCAA play, Director of Athletics Scott Kilgallon said the university is doing well on the athletic front, and it’s something to be proud of.

“The Fall Cup focuses on how competitive your athletic programs are,” Kilgallon said. “These are the positive results we aim for – it’s definitely the front porch of the university.”

Cumulative scores are prorated based on how many teams a university has.

Kilgallon said because Eau Claire averages numbers as high as twelve to fifteen teams entering the post season per year, the school places extremely well.

Freshman volleyball player Kelly Reisgraf said while she wasn’t aware the athletic program received this award, she’s excited to hear the university scores highly.

“For me as an athlete, it means a lot that all our programs were so successful,” Reisgraf said. “As a whole, I think it’s every team’s goal to be the best we can be.”

Considering her volleyball team’s success, Reisgraf said joining the ath- letic program was a determinant in choosing Eau Claire.

Kilgallon said this relationship between academics and the athletic program is a reason for both sections of the university’s success – in terms of both sports promoting academics and the coaches’ willingness to facilitate professors.

“Our coaches and our staff really believe in the student before athlete,” Kilgallon said. “It’s the core foundation of our athletic staff here.”

Although it hasn’t always been the case, students in athletics have shown statistically higher grades, which Kil- gallon said is a result of the university athletic program’s concentration on ac- ademic welfare.

“If we can get our students to take care of their academics, it’s going to stand to reason that they’ll be able to focus more on their athletics.”

Sophomore volleyball player Alex- is Wong said she agrees coaches at the university are conscious of their play- ers and it’s something to be proud of.

“The coaches are dedicated to the university, the program and the stu- dents they’re coaching,” Wong said. “Without the hard work of the coach- es and administration, I don’t think we’d be ranked 17 in the nation.”

Unlike many Div. I athletic pro- grams, the university raises $150,000 per year in order to pay for basic op- erations, which makes the achieve- ment considerably more valuable for those involved.

“At the end of the day, we put a lot of what I call sweat equity in order to make this happen,” Kilgallon said. “Everybody’s proud of it and every- body’s committed to bringing that ex- perience to our student athletes.”

Moving through the winter sea- son and into the spring, Kilgallon said the athletics program will strive to continue placing so many teams into NCAA tournament play, and maintain their rank in the Director’s Cup standings.