Basketball did more for Malachi Luster than just keep him in shape no the court.
"Being a student athlete it motivated me to have better grades.It just pushes me to always be the best. Im a competitor. I want to be the best on the court and the classroom ."
That's what RPS 205 wants too. And it's why back in 2011 it formed a new game plan when it came to its student athlete policy.
"We saw a lot of students who were exceptional students afraid of taking AP classes, AP physics, because they were afraid they'd get near the 2.0 range," says RPS 205 Director of Athletics, Activities & Program Development Mat Parker. "We also saw students taking a bunch of easy classes so that they could meet that 2.0 requirement, and then not graduate."
The district moved from a 2.0 minimum GPA to the IHSA requirement of a "Pass Five Policy", Meaning students need to be passing at least five of their courses to be eligible.
Since the shift, RPS is recorded a rise in the number of total student athletes. But it's also seeing a rise in the number of those taking advanced placement courses.
In 2011 1,883 student athletes took an AP class. In 2016 that number went up over 200% to 6,027.
"We wanted students to feel confident taking these courses, whether they get an A or a D ," says Parker.
And many of them say they have that confidence, and more.
"It's taught me so much because you have to know how to balance your homework between practices and games," says Rockford East Student Athlete Kerrigan Turek.
What more, student athletes are also outperforming non-athletes when it comes to GPA's. Late year student athletes had an average GPA of 2.37. Non-athletes came in below that at 1.37.
"Some teammates had study tables, that brought us closer together because we needed a certain GPA, so it pushed you," says Rockford East student athlete alum Victoria Malone.