The easiest place to find Hammond's valedictorian for the last few years has been girls soccer practice.
Marilyn Sosa, now a senior at Purdue, was top of the class of 2010. Angelica Rodriguez, the younger sister of coach Mayra Rodriguez-Alvarez, was valedictorian in 2011. She's a junior at Rose-Hulman.
This year's Wildcats are no exception, with defender Miriam Alvarado ranked No. 1 in the current senior class with a 4.3 grade point average. Three other seniors: defender Karla Govea (12), midfielder Alondra Munoz (18) and forward Zury Perez (19) all rank in the top 20.
"They all take school seriously," Rodriguez-Alvarez said. "I don't have to be a stickler with grades."
Rodriguez-Alvarez doesn't have to be a stickler, but she is. The coach, who is currently pursuing her law degree at Valparaiso, could play any student with passing grades but she doesn't. Kids need at least a C in every class to see the pitch.
"It can be a challenge sometimes (coaching such an intelligent group); they tend to over think some of the simple things," she said. "But I can speak to them with a vocabulary that I know they'll understand. I don't have to simplify."
Alvarado said there's an academic tradition that Hammond soccer players are both aware and proud of.
"I've known since freshman year that players are good in school. It's an inspiration. It's motivation," Alvarado said. "It's not exactly something we have to live up to, but we use it as an example."
Alvarado plans to major in pre-medicine at Indiana and eventually become an obstetrician and gynecologist.
Govea also wants to attend IU. She plans on becoming a nurse. Govea's inspiration in the classroom is less about the team and more about the home.
"I want to make my parents proud and make everybody else around me proud," she said.
Munoz plans to join her teammates in Bloomington with intentions of becoming a chef.
They're still athletes, though. The best grade on a test or in a class can sometimes be a badge of honor to carry around until the next grades are posted.
"Sometimes it can get competitive, but it's only in a good way," Perez said. "(Coach Rodriguez-Alvarez) wants us to not only be the best on the field, but also in the classroom."
"She cares about your grades and that shows good character in her."
Perez will go to IU Northwest. She want's to be a dentist. Her reputation on the team is for always wearing a grin.
"When I see someone with yellow teeth or bad teeth and they don't smile, I want to help them," Perez said. "I want everybody to have the opportunity to smile."