Janes’ latest award is her biggest yet

FLC softball player is the 1st Academic All-American

Stephanie Janes, fresh off the Skyhawks’ softball program’s first-ever Academic All-American selection, will get her Master of Busines Administration at the University of North Carolina. Her twin sister, Natalie Janes, right, will attend Gonzaga for her master’s degree. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald file photo

Stephanie Janes, fresh off the Skyhawks’ softball program’s first-ever Academic All-American selection, will get her Master of Busines Administration at the University of North Carolina. Her twin sister, Natalie Janes, right, will attend Gonzaga for her master’s degree.

Tack one more massive accolade on to Stephanie Janes’ list. And it’s a big one.

Janes became the first FLC softball player to earn Academic All-America honors recently when she was named to the second team.

The Phoenix native carried a 3.82 grade-point average as a business administration major her senior year, and she said the award took her by surprise.

“I actually didn’t know I was going to get it until I got it. ... I feel really proud because being an athlete is definitely an accomplishment in itself ... and having a good academic career, too, is icing on the cake,” Janes said.

Only seven other Skyhawks have earned Academic All-America first-, second- or third-team honors. Matt Morris (men’s basketball), Frank Atherton (football) and Berekk Blackwell (men’s soccer) all were honored for this academic season. Christine Schmelzle (women’s soccer), Tad Layman (football), Ryan Ostrom (men’s basketball) and Dee Tennison (football) were the others.

The criteria for the award, for which players are nominated by their school’s sports information director, requires that an athlete carry at least a 3.30 GPA and be a starter or key reserve for their team.

Janes certainly was that. After coming off a shoulder injury and spending her first three years primarily as a pitcher, Janes moved to first base and put up strong numbers at the plate as FLC qualified for just its second NCAA Tournament in school history.

Janes hit .406 – fifth-best in program history – while driving in 43 runs, belting 10 home runs and accumulating a .664 slugging percentage as the Skyhawks claimed the RMAC Tournament title.

“I was glad to see all the hard work did pay off as a senior,” she said. “I didn’t get a ton of time in the circle this year, but I believe things happen for a reason.

The recently graduated FLC softball player already had All-Central Region second-team and All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference first-team honors bestowed upon her for her on-field exploits in 2012.

In her career in the classroom, Janes was a three-time RMAC All-Academic team selection, a two-time D2 Athletic Directors Association/WeatherPORT Academic Award recipient and was an NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete in 2011.

Up next for Janes is getting her Master of Business Administration at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

“Most MBA programs require a couple years of work experience, and because I played sports throughout college, I didn’t have a lot of work experience. ... They take a lot of kids right out of undergrad,” Janes said.

It’ll be the first time she and twin sister Natalie will be split up for education. Natalie Janes will be attending Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., to get her master’s degree in sports administration.

But Stephanie Janes isn’t worried about the distance from family and instead is embracing the upcoming challenges and new beginnings.

“It’s going to be good for us; it’s going to make our relationship stronger. ... I’m excited, actually, for a new adventure, new state, meeting new people,” she said.

rowens@durangoherald.com