Kevin Murphy, the athletic director at WTHS for the past 18 years, started the Athletic Director’s Cup during the 2018-19 school year. The cup is awarded to the program with the highest cumulative grade point average. The boys volleyball team was the inaugural cup winner for their 96 cumulative GPA on a scale to 100.
“We have over 1,200 student-athletes, a number that’s increased over the past 18 years since I’ve been athletic director,” Murphy said. “I’ve always marveled at the work of our student athletes, and not only our student athletes, but our coaches on placing an emphasis on academics. Being the best you can be in the classroom because there’s a direct correlation to success in the classroom and success in many athletic fields, court, pool and that’s certainly true in the case of our boys volleyball team this past spring.”
As if the 96 GPA wasn’t enough, head coach Barb McBrearty’s squad finished the season with a 24-4 record and 11-1 mark in the Olympic Conference. The team took home an Olympic Conference championship, made it to the second round of the state tournament, won the Gloucester County tournament and finished second in the Eastern Regional Invitational tournament.
On an individual level, 2019 graduate Brett Guetens was named the South Jersey Sports Weekly boys volleyball player of the year as well as a first team Olympic Conference all-star and a first team Gloucester County all-star. Junior Tyler Jones was named first team all-Olympic Conference and the first team all-Gloucester County. Senior Justin Bautista was named first team all-Olympic Conference and first team all-Gloucester County. Anthony LaSalle, a 2019 graduate, was named second team all-Olympic Conference. Another 2019 graduate, Kade Cornelius, was named second team all-Gloucester County.
“They’re an outstanding group of young men, all around,” McBrearty said. “Their time management, they were involved in so many different aspects of school life and community, doing community services, active in the play, active in Interact, they were all around athletes.”
What is even more impressive was the graduating seniors finished the season with a 98.6 cumulative GPA. Considering spring is the end of the school year and they could have easily phoned in the last semester and chalked it up to a case of senioritis, they still strived to be the best they could be both on and off the court.
McBrearty looked specifically to their match against Williamstown for the Olympic Conference title, she remembered she had five players out taking the Advanced Placement tests and could possibly miss the game because of their studies.
“I kept going to the back door looking for them to run through the door,” she said with a smile. “The Williamstown coach did say, ‘I will wait until your players get here.'”
Washington Township had seven seniors graduate in 2019. Below is an update of where they decided to go to school and what they are studying.
Guetens is attending West Chester University to study political science. LaSalle is attending the University of Vermont to study environmental science. Mike Mulvihill is attending Rowan University to study engineering. Marco Santos is attending Seton Hall to study accounting. Bill McCrae is attending Houghton College to study marketing. Cornelius is attending the University of Maryland to study environmental science. Pat Wilson is attending the University of the Arts to study photography. The team’s two managers, Olivia DeSanto and Mike McEntee, are attending St. Joe’s University and Clemson University to study biology and business analytics, respectively.
“I’ve known about the success of our student-athletes and certainly the great work that our coaches do and it was the right time to recognize that and start to look at certain things that happen in our school,” Murphy said. “Academics is the driving force. We’re education-based athletics and that’s a big part of who we are and what we do. It’s not AAU, it’s not a club sport, it’s education-based athletics and that comes first in the student-athlete combination.”
Murphy added 22 of the 31 sport programs had a 91 or better GPA which equates to a high B, low A average. With that said, McBrearty is looking forward to the challenge of defending her squad’s crown as the Athletic Cup champions.
“I have several underclassmen that are involved in honors classes and will be taking the AP test again. Volleyball, both boys and girls, their GPA have always been extremely high,” she said. “We’re looking forward to another successful season. They’re outstanding young men to work with. It’s a pleasure having them walk into the gym every day, everyone’s high level. They bring a lot of excitement to the game, to practices, it’s very enjoyable coaching them.”