It's stated on the second page of the Minnesota State High School League handbook, right after the table of contents:
"Academic priorities must come before participation in athletic or fine arts activities."
Too often, it seems, it's the other way around, with athletic prowess taking precedence over academic achievement.
For many students, academic and athletic success go hand-in-hand. For that reason, the Star Tribune annually closes out its coverage of a prep sports season by honoring one boy and one girl in the metropolitan area as a Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Requests for nominations were sent to athletic directors at all Twin Cities area schools, asking them to nominate athletes who excelled both in the classroom and on the field of play. Twenty-seven athletes were nominated.
Here are the 2011-2012 Star Tribune Scholar-Athletes of the Year:
Sports: Football (wide receiver, defensive back), baseball (center field)
Athletic achievements: Class 5A all-state football 2011; All-Metro football 2011; All-Metro baseball 2012; Minnesota High School All-Star football game selection.
Grade-point average: 4.105
Academic achievements: Four-year board scholar; freshman and sophomore class president; congressional appointment to West Point; Minnesota State High School League Distinguished Academic Achievement Award.
College plans: Princeton to play football and major in economics or foreign policy.
Most memorable athletic moment: "Walking into the Metrodome after making to the state [football] tournament for the first time in school history. The atmosphere there, with all of our fans chanting 'I Believe,' made it honestly the best moment I've had athletically so far."
On balancing academic and athletics: "It really comes down to being familiar with athletics and what you need to do to be successful. Athletics helped me be able to manage academics and stay focused. It wasn't that big of a challenge. I won't say it was fun, but it did make things very interesting."
Making sacrifices: "You definitely have to choose what you want to do. I knew that if I wanted to have a good football season and also perform in the classroom, I had to do a lot of sacrificing and taking away from some social aspects. I didn't have the same high school experience the average student had."
The payoff: "I look back now that I've been through it and I'm so glad I did what I did to get to this point. I'm going to a place where I'll get a great education and get to play the sport I love. I wouldn't take anything back."
Proudest non-athletic accomplishment: "Getting the congressional nomination to West Point. You go through a series of interviews with both senators and your representative. You go in not having a clue what they're going to ask and they just throw questions at you. It was the most difficult interview I've ever been through. I didn't go to West Point because I have a gluten intolerance, and they don't do individual meal plans. There was a very good chance I would have been medically discharged. It would have been great to go there, though."
Personal philosophy: ''The sacrifices are well worth the payoff. It can be a tough road, but when you look back and see what you've accomplished, it's the greatest feeling knowing that you did it."
Sports: Soccer, basketball (center), track and field (400 meters)
Athletic achievements: Class 1A all-state soccer 2010; Class 2A all-state basketball 2012; state champion basketball 2012; Class 1A 400-meter dash state champion 2012; Basketball Series all-state selection 2012
Grade-point average: 3.7
Academic achievements: Athena Award winner 2012; student body president; student council; National Honor Society; student ambassador.
College plans: Harvard for basketball
Most memorable athletic moment: "Winning the [Class 2A] state championship. That was a huge goal of mine."
Choosing between school and sports: "Something that I've learned and that I will carry with me to Harvard is prioritizing. You have to take a look at your life and choose what is most important. Is a test more important than practice? Once you're used to prioritizing, it makes those questions a lot easier. And I became very good at cramming."
Making a commitment: "Balancing academic and athletics is something I've done all of my life. I've done it for so long, it has just become routine. It's become a part of who I am. It's just something I've always done."
Eyes on the prize: "On our basketball team this year, our team motto was 'All In,' like going all in on a poker game. It was about putting everything on the line and not holding back anything. You can lose everything, sure, but there is so much to gain. We lived it and we won the state championship."
Drive and dedication: "That came from my parents. They raised me to know that whatever I do, I have to be committed to doing it as well as I can. That's something I've been taught by my coaches and teachers, too. They ground you in that work ethic."
The biggest sacrifice: "I think that would be your time. A lot of people can be more free with their time. When you're as competitive as I am, you have to give some things up. During the school year, my time is spent in the gym or at my desk at home. I'm not going out or watching TV or surfing the Web. Time is a gift. It's how you choose to use it that matters."
Biggest influence: "I'm really involved with my faith and I take it very seriously. It is a central part of my life, even more than basketball or soccer or track. It means more than getting an 'A' on a test. Prizes and awards come and go. But if you ground yourself in Christ, that relationship can help you with the challenges life give you."