October 28, 2021 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Dukeman shines in classroom and in athletics

School comes easy for St. Joseph-Ogden High School junior Hannah Dukeman.


Dukeman, who plays softball for SJO in addition to playing travel softball Premier Fastpitch, said she values academics.


“School has always been something that doesn’t come extremely difficult for me,” she said. “I know that school work is important when it comes to playing sports, so I work efficiently when I need to.”


Dukeman was a vital part of the SJO girls’ basketball team that placed third in Class 2A last month.


She averaged 8.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists for the Spartans while contributing to the team’s average GPA of 3.66.


According to her Premier Fastpitch profile, Dukeman’s GPA is 4.4 out of 4.0 and she is ranked second in her class while taking accelerated trigonometry and AP English.


“I have always cared a lot about my grades and wanted to get straight A’s because I know I have the potential to,” Dukeman said. “I guess you can say I push myself in the classroom just like I do in sports because I want to do the best I can.”


SJO girls’ basketball coach Kevin Taylor said he stressed to his team the importance of academics.


“I try to make sure the girls know that grades come first,” he said.


Taylor said he tells his team at the start of the season that they are excused from practice any time they need to go visit a teacher for help or need to finish a school project.


“I am lucky as well because just about all the girls take academics very seriously on their own,” Taylor said. “Last year we won the award for highest GPA for a team.”


Dukeman said Taylor emphasized the importance of academics, but the team didn’t need much encouragement.


“The team understands how important schoolwork is, which clearly reflects in our team GPA,” she said.


Taylor said it isn’t just the girls’ basketball team that values academics. The entire school has a culture of expecting students to perform well in the classroom. Taylor, who serves on the SJO school board, said it is important to provide all the students, not just those who play sports, with as many advantages as they can for when they leave high school.


Taylor said he is a strong advocate for dual credit and AP courses as well as providing options for students who may enter the workforce directly after high school.


“As a parent I know that even with success in sports, the day for playing sports will come to an end,” he said, “and then my children will have to rely on the knowledge they gained from playing sports but most importantly what they learned in school.”


Dukeman, who is committed to play softball in college at Ball State, echoes that sentiment.


“I think our school stresses the importance of academics because we usually have a large group of students that succeed when it comes to the classroom,” she said. “They want to be a school where people want to learn, but also aren’t afraid to get help if needed.”

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