By Rory Sharrock
Courtney Byrd is a student-athlete in every sense of the word.
She's an intelligent student whose ardent study habits have carved out a road of limitless possibilities well beyond her college years.
She's also a gifted athlete who has helped her teams achieve success in high school and college.
This season, the sophomore libero/defensive specialist for the Reinhardt College Lady Eagles has experienced the best of both worlds as she was selected on the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) All-Academic Team. To qualify for All-Academic honors, a student-athlete must be at least a sophomore and have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.25 or better.
"I'm happy. Not many people get this and it's just a blessing I did. I was shocked," said Byrd, who is majoring in history. "I've always been the type of student who made good grades and played sports. Education is very important because after volleyball is over, I'm left with my education and that's the only thing that's going to get me somewhere."
While the announcement of her latest accomplishment is noteworthy, it's no surprise to anyone who knows her that she's a natural when it comes to academics and athletics.
Byrd has been playing volleyball for the past eight years in two states. She began her career at Buford High School in Buford, S.C. honing her skills for the Buford Lady Eagles. After her sophomore season, her family relocated to the Southern Crescent, where she enrolled at North Clayton High School to once again compete for the Lady Eagles.
It was at North Clayton where she truly came into her own. During her senior season in the fall of 2006, Byrd help guide the Lady Eagles to a 24-10 overall and 6-3 record in Region 4-AAAA. North Clayton clinched a playoff berth and beat Rockdale County 3-1 in the first round before being eliminated by Marist 3-0 in the second round.
As a result of these skills, she took her talents to Reinhardt College in Waleska and has not missed a beat. Currently, Reinhardt is 17-10 and 7-5 in the SSAC.
When the ball is served, Byrd makes her defensive presence felt throughout the gym. She ranks No. 1 on the team in digs with 228 with an average of 2.8 per game.
The volleyball squad features 12 of the brightest students on the entire campus. Four teams from Reinhardt College qualified for All-Academic honors and the volleyball squad recorded the highest overall grade point average.
Byrd's stellar marks in the classroom was a big reason for this accomplishment and she's been showered with praises from all those in her circle, especially from her head coach, Angela Monds.
"She's very focused and does a good job all the way around," said Monds. "She's what college students should be. They should come here and put 100 percent effort on the floor for their team and put 100 percent in the classroom and she does that. She's doing what she needs to and she'll be a success because of that."