Chico athletes Baxter and Curls are two in 75 across nation to win scholarship

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Courtesy of Chico State Athletics

Chico State Guard Joshua Curls drives with the ball in a basketball game.

Cross country athlete Wyatt Baxter and basketball guard Joshua Curls are getting recognition for their academic excellence at Chico State. They are two out of only 75 athletes across the nation to receive the Division II NCAA Degree Completion Award, which awards $7,000 for a number of reasons, including acheiving a high GPA.

Both of their coaches were in complete agreement with the decision to give the scholarship to Baxter and Curls. Chico State men’s basketball coach Greg Clink applauded the effort Curls put into his classes.

“Josh has been one of the best, most diligent students that I’ve ever coached,” Clink said. “He’s just so driven both athletically and academically.”

Cross country coach Gary Towne admired Baxter’s attitude, and his work ethic to keep on top of his grades. He mentioned how Baxter was ready to succeed right from the jump.

“That first semester oftentimes is the most challenging semester in college,” Towne said. “Right from the start, he was on it and just kept it going.” 

Chico State's Wyatt Baxter runs during a race.
Chico State’s Wyatt Baxter runs during a race.

Both Baxter and Curls have won multiple awards for their academic success in the past, including California Collegiate Athletic Association All-Academic honors and some Academic All-America awards. For athletes, this can be a tough task, due to the practices, games and travel that is involved. 

“Balancing the two became more challenging when I went to college,” Curls said. “The travel trips make it kind of difficult to do homework in the hotel rooms, and makes it hard to balance out the schedule so you don’t do stuff when you’re on the road.”

He also added that his coaches and teammates motivate and support each other to do well in school. 

“Our team has a great culture,” Curls said. “We’re always there to support one another. Coach Clink and coach Darnall do a really good job of making sure we’re on top of our studies.”

Baxter talked about how school always comes first for him, and how his coaches also support their academics.

“‘[Towne’s] very adamant in making sure we’re on top of our stuff.” Baxter said. “At the end of the semester he checks grades just to see how we’re doing.”

While both Wildcats are doing well in school at home, they both wish that they could be back in a classroom setting.

“I like having that connection with my professors,” Baxter said. “I much prefer the face-to-face. I always enjoyed going to office hours, and having the routine of being in-person for class.”

Baxter and Curl’s success has made them two out of only three students in the CCAA to win this scholarship.

Connor McPherson can be reached at orionmanagin[email protected] or @theGOATMcphers1 on Twitter.