The Perham girls basketball team set the gold standard for the state of Minnesota when it captured the Class AA Academic State Championship. The Yellowjackets not only had the highest team grade point average in Class AA, they had the highest team GPA in the state of Minnesota.
The Yellowjackets posted a team gpa of 3.968, which put them just ahead of Wadena-Deer Creek, who finished with a team gpa of 3.957. The Wolverines won the Class AA award for the 2018-19 season.
Perham head coach TJ Super said it speaks volumes to the girls and the type of student-athletes they are. Super said it starts with the seniors and how they set the standard of excellence of being involved in more than just basketball and sports.
“The fact that they get the job done in the classroom shows that they are committed to being a Perham student and the fact is the girls set this as a goal when we were close to it the last couple of years,” Super said. “As a team, the girls said they were going to do even better in the classroom in the spring and the fall. We are excited that they accomplished a goal.”
Senior Katie Zepper received Class AA All-State Academic with a gpa of 3.994, leading the way for the Yellowjackets in the classroom. Super said Zepper is the epitome of the term student-athlete.
“Academics are one thing that the girls basketball team stresses a lot. We are student-athletes, so we are students before athletes,” Zepper said. “It’s a really big deal for everyone to focus so hard on their academics and be hard-working students in the classroom. It all translates into the hard work that goes into our practices after.”
Zepper said it was a goal of theirs to win the Class AA Academic Championship. She said the team strives to be good students in the classroom.
“We always set goals for ourselves, academically, along with our basketball goals,” Zepper said. “That was one of our achievements that we set for ourselves.”
Zepper said she was really proud of her team for setting the goal and accomplishing it.
“We have really smart girls and it’s like all the work that goes in the classroom, it paid off,” Zepper said. “It’s something I’m really proud of my team for.”
Super said the team has really smart girls and some that really work really hard in the classroom in not only getting good grades but being leaders in the classroom.
“They are doing a lot of stuff every single day in the schools,” Super said. “It’s not just about getting it done on the court, but getting it done in the classroom too.”
Super said this is one of the pillars of the program and it’s something he stresses to the fans about the work the team puts in, in and out of the gymnasium. Super said he asked his team to raise their hands if they didn’t get all A’s. He said he had one girl raise her hand and she said she had an A-.
“The girls have a very high expectation of it and where the idea of an A- is not an A in their mind,” Super said. “We know that all the girls are not going to get straight A’s and we are not putting stress on them in that way that they have to do this. We do expect them to try their hardest and most of our girls when they try their hardest, get a lot of good grades.”
Super said they emphasize work in the classroom all throughout the program, so it’s not a surprise when the kids hit the varsity level.
“If we have kids that are struggling with their classes, we take them out of practice and make sure they know that their school work is important. They have to stay on top of that,” Super said. “We have freshmen that come in and get good grades, we have sophomores that follow that lead and our juniors are great students and the seniors understand a bit more what it takes to be a student, but it does trickle down. A lot of time seventh graders coming into middle school don’t really understand and sometimes they fall behind, but we get them young and teach them how to do that and think it’s a valuable lesson.”