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There are not too many reasons St. Mary’s Ryken Knights boys soccer coach Keith Bohn and Knights girls soccer coach Tim Major excuse players from practice.

If a player wishes to do something with friends, that will not get a player excused, neither will wanting to go home and play video games or watch television.

But tell either Bohn or Major that you have some extra studying to do or some make-up work to complete and you are allowed to miss practice without question.

Both Bohn and Major admit they allow that and for that reason, both programs were recently awarded the National Soccer Coaches Association of America High School Team Academic Award for the 2011-12 season.

The St. Mary’s College of Maryland Seahawks women’s soccer program also received the award on the collegiate level for the 2011-12 season.

The nation-wide award recognizes high school soccer teams that maintain at least a 3.25 grade-point average amongst the team.

Total, 226 girls teams and 138 boys teams received the award on the high school level, however, Ryken was one of 49 schools, nation-wide, to have both boys and girls teams from the same school receive the award.

“We stress academics to our players because clearly at St. Mary’s Ryken, academics are above athletics,” Bohn said. “So, we stress it to our players and work with them in ensuring they have taken care of all of the other things, like family and academics, before soccer.”

Major added, “Of course, academics still has to be number one. We all love to coach and play the game, but at the end of the day, it’s about the education we get that is going to lead us in the direction of our lives.”

For Bohn and the boys team who were awarded for its 3.61 team GPA, this is the second consecutive year they have received the award after being recognized for the 2010-11 season, led by senior captains Lance Casimir and Nicholas Dowdle who both maintain GPAs over 4.5, respectively.

“I, as a coach, am another part interested in their academics,” Bohn added. “I am aside from teacher and parent. The student has another person in the loop that is interested in their academics.”

Both Bohn and Major admit that help from the Ryken administration down through the teachers help all of the athletic programs produce high team GPAs, but Major adds that it may be another factor in helping raise the grade point averages.

“It’s peer pressure,” said Major whose team finished with a 3.46 GPA. “You don’t want to be the kid that can’t play because of bad grades. As a group, they all strive to be great together. … Collectively they work as a group to keep their grades up as a team.”

On the college level, the NSCAA academic team award recognizes programs that maintain at least a 3.0 grade-point average and the Seahawks who were awarded for a 3.40 team GPA were led in the classroom by senior defender Liza Sitz, a psychology major and neuroscience minor with a 3.78 cumulative grade point average according to the Seahawks website.

Sitz was also named to the 2012 Capital One Academic All-District® District 2 NCAA Division III Women's Soccer team and is a member of three national honor societies on the St. Mary’s College campus, according to the website.

jmccray@somdnews.com