Lexi Baltes is sure to receive plenty of honors for her contributions on the basketball court for Illinois Wesleyan this season, but it will be hard to top the honors she’s received in the past two weeks for what she did off the court.
Baltes, a senior from St. Charles, was named an Academic All-American on Tuesday. Last week, she was one of 10 collegians named to the Allstate Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Good Works Teams, which recognizes players who have made a commitment to improving the lives of others.
The St. Charles East product was selected to the third team of the Capital One Academic All-America Division III women’s basketball squad by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
“I was excited and honored to get that award,” Baltes said. “I came here for both academics and athletics, so to be able to get that is pretty exciting.”
A minimum GPA of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale is required to be considered for Academic All-American status. Baltes has a 3.89 GPA while working toward a double major in English and political science. Besides playing basketball and concentrating on her studies, Baltes finds time to be involved with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee at Illinois Wesleyan, the Pi Sigma Alpha sorority, and the Death, Resurrection, Life campus ministry.
“Time management is key and maybe giving up sleep a little bit,” Baltes said. “Really, I think it’s a great support system here at Wesleyan.”
She said coaches are concerned about the academic success of their players and, conversely, professors come to the games to support the athletes. She said the school fosters an “environment where excellence in different areas is possible.”
Illinois Wesleyan basketball coach Mia Smith nominated Baltes for the Good Works award. One of the “good works” Smith cited in her nomination was a mission trip Baltes took to Nicaragua with high school students from Christ Community Church in St. Charles.
The group spent two weeks in the area around the city of Granada, Nicaragua, and helped construct a church building that can double as a community center and school. They also delivered MannaPack food packets provided by the Feed My Starving Children organization.
Baltes’ efforts to enhance the spiritual lives of others extends to her fellow students at Illinois Wesleyan.
“On campus, we started a Fellowship of Christian Athletes group,” she said. “There had been [one] in the past. It kind of disbanded. A teammate [Katie Seibring] and I got it going again.”
All of the effort Baltes has expended on these good works has done nothing to detract from her effort on the court. The 5-foot-9 guard is averaging 13.9 points and 5.3 rebounds a game for the Titans (16-7). She leads the team in assists (98) and steals (67). In a victory over Howard Payne in December she recorded the first triple-double in school history with 14 points, 16 rebounds, and a school-record 13 assists.
Illinois Wesleyan’s 69-57 victory over the Lady Reds in Bloomington was the first loss of the season for Carthage in College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin play. The Titans (10-2) are one game behind in the CCIW standings.
“We’re looking to win out the rest of conference and get in the conference tournament and see what we can do from there,” Baltes said.
• Dennis D. Jacobs has covered sports for newspapers in five different decades. To suggest a local college athlete deserving recognition in the On Campus column, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.