University Park, IL,
13:10 PM

GSU Women's Basketball Player Hustles to Achieve Perfect GPA, Team Respect

The heat is not working at Whiting, Indiana’s Rittenmeyer Athletic Center, and as the temperature inside dips into the mid-50s, Governors State University (GSU) freshman Caitlin Sellers nestles up to her notebook and text books, ice packs strapped to both knees.

She's in the stands cheering on the GSU men's basketball team between study breaks. Just a short time earlier, she was helping the women's basketball team defeat Calumet St. Joseph in a road game.

While a frigid, noisy gymnasium may not be the best study environment, Sellers seizes any free moment to attack her homework.

A Deans Scholar and AIM High scholarship recipient, Sellers posted a 4.00 grade-point average while taking 17 credit hours in the fall. Her plate was full with school work and a part-time job. She was also on the basketball team but had yet to play in a game; classes prevented her from practicing with the team.

A phone call from GSU Head Coach Tonishea Mack around Thanksgiving changed all that. The Jaguars were short-handed due to injuries, the time had come for Sellers to make her debut in a Jaguar uniform.

"The only reason Caitlin didn't play earlier in the year is because she's a Deans Scholar and we wanted to give her time to adjust to school. But once we needed her, she was ready to jump in," said Mack.

"My focus was really on school. There were nights where I would only get three or four hours of sleep to finish homework. That was before I began playing basketball," said Sellers. Suddenly, the Grant Park, Illinois native had to carve out time for games, practices, video sessions and travel. Her immediate concerns were getting into game shape, grasping the team's offensive and defensive schemes, and perhaps most important of all, learning her teammates' names.

It wasn't long before Sellers began flourishing in her new role, earning more playing time as the season progressed. She broke into the starting lineup for three games and has averaged over 18 minutes of playing time per game. In the process, Sellers has earned the respect of her coaches and teammates.

"We were down to five players, she came in and was definitely helpful in us making the postseason," said GSU junior guard Kiya King. "She's a hustler and a great leader. After games Caitlin goes to study. She has shown that it's possible to be a good student and play basketball."

"We have always thought of Caitlin as someone who was going to be a contributor because of her knowledge of the game and work ethic," added Mack. "She's basketball savvy and has proven she belongs on this team."

As the Jaguars prepared for their first conference tournament, Sellers had adjusted to the demands of being a scholar student-athlete, even as her class load increased to 19 credit hours this spring. A physical therapy major, her approach is simple: "I've found that if you put in the time, you'll get the grades you want."