LC athletes compete in an academic league of their own

By Lauren Keegan

The grind never stops for Lewis & Clark student athletes, many of whom have consistently demonstrated strong academic inclinations in addition to achievements within athletics. Both in and out of Pamplin, LC student athletes boast a considerable number of academic awards recognizing these successes.

The latest achievement in the realm of academic success is sizable: Kori Groenveld ’18 was recently announced as a finalist for the prestigious and highly competitive Harry S. Truman federal scholarship. Groenveld is captain of the women’s cross country team and a distance runner on the track & field team.

“(The announcement) made me proud because I felt like I was fitting into the legacy of other really strong athletes and scholars on my team,” Groenveld said. “There’s a legacy of really impressive people that were my captains and leaders before, and I’m hopefully being the same role model for the people younger than me.”

This legacy can be traced to the Rena J. Ratte award, the recipients of which for the past three years have been runners on the women’s cross country team: Katie Keith ’15 who is currently enrolled in graduate school at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Angie Epifano ’16 who is currently enrolled in the University of Chicago’s art history doctoral program; and Katie Kowal ’17, who works for the federal government in Washington D.C. in science policy.

At the end of the 2016-17 school year, the 19 varsity athletic teams of LC averaged a 3.2 GPA, and 18 of the teams were represented on the Dean’s list for spring semester. Sixty student athletes earned spots on the list, 18 of which had achieved a 4.0.

The Dell Smith Male Scholar-Athlete and Judy McMullen Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards are considered to be the most prestigious awards offered to athletes at LC, as both of these awards heavily emphasize academics and athletics. Additionally, many students in the Pamplin Society of Fellows are student athletes, involved in both club and varsity sports.

Each year, the Northwest Conference (NWC) announces the recognition of Academic All-NWC athletes, which requires that a student athlete participate for the entire varsity season and earn a GPA at or above a 3.5. Eighty student athletes from LC made the list in 2017, representing all 19 varsity athletic teams.

Phi Beta Kappa is one of the oldest and most prestigious academic societies in the United States, and membership is awarded annually to a small number of students who demonstrate a wide range of academic interests and excel in these areas. LC student-athletes are consistently awarded membership, with four of the roughly 40 inductees in the past year representing varsity sports.

The drive for excellence is clearly not lost on LC student athletes, who bring honor to both halves of the title they carry. Groenveld reflected on this connection as part of her journey toward the Truman scholarship.

“In my interview for the Truman scholarship, I was asked what it was like to be a cross country captain and a leader on the team, and how that has helped me,” Groenveld said. “That showed me how the rest of the world sees the importance of athletics. It recognizes that it’s not just something you’re doing for fun, it really shapes your character and is something people value in looking at you as a scholar.”

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