Alumni Magazine Fall 2016 - page 22-23

Fall 2016
Fall 2016
When they are getting up to practice at 6 a.m. or
coming home at midnight from a midweek game,
they are doing it because they have a passion
for their sport. I think that says a lot about their
— Laurel Kane, Associate Director of Athletics
Women’s Basketball Coach Maureen Webster encourages her
student-athletes to play multiple sports if they choose, just as she
did as a student-athlete at SUNY Potsdam, where she excelled on
both the basketball court and soccer field.
“That’s one of the special things about playing at the DIII
level,” says Webster. “When you go out into the workforce you’re
not always going to work with people you get along with. Knowing
how to work within a team is important. I always found that I did
better [academically] when I was playing a sport, and I see the
same thing with my student-athletes.”
Skills You Can’t Get Anywhere Else
Johan Dulfer coached Clarkson’s women’s volleyball team for a
decade before he left earlier this year for Ithaca College. A native
of Holland, he encouraged his players to spend a spring semester
studying abroad. But don’t mistake his progressive perspective
for a lack of competitiveness: During his time at Clarkson, he
transformed the volleyball program into a juggernaut, perhaps the
most consistent team in all of DIII.
“My players are always thinking about getting better and working
on getting better,” he says. “Yes, the athletes are a little taller, jump a little
higher, and hit the ball a little harder in Division I, but as you get down
to the bottom of that division there’s a ton of overlap. My volleyball
players at Clarkson always had partial scholarship offers in DII or DI.
But they chose to come to Clarkson.
to play more than one sport, and can
take part in other campus activities. At
DI programs where the athletic time
commitments and pressures are much
greater, multisport athletes are a rarity.
“I came to school saying if I
can get through the soccer season
without any academic problems then
I’ll consider playing lacrosse,” Wright
says. “I actually found that playing a
sport helped with time management
because you know you have to get
the homework done before practice,
so you do.”
After an ankle injury ended her
soccer career, she focused exclusively
on lacrosse, and eventually set
program records for career and
single season points and assists.
Wright also registered a perfect
4.0 GPA, which was only one attribute
that attracted the attention of Burns
and McDonnell, a leading engineering
and architectural consulting firm,
where she now works.
“They look for people who
played sports,” she says. “They
know that you’ve been in situations
where you’ve had to utilize
teamwork, and you’ve had to utilize
time management skills. A lot of
my interview questions focused on
my experiences playing two sports
in college.”
A 2013 global survey conducted by the consulting firm EY found that among female
senior managers and executives sampled, more than half played a sport at the university
level and more than 90% considered themselves athletes.
“I think the prospect of playing at Clarkson, where the school
really supports athletics, where you get to compete for a national
championship every year if you do it right, maybe call yourself an
All-American, I think that’s really appealing.”
Victoria Kirkemo ’16 certainly agreed. The Colorado native
started playing volleyball when she was 12, and decided as a high
school junior that she didn’t want to stop.
“I thought about [playing DI] and probably could have if I
wanted to,” she says. “I think that the chances of an athlete making
a career out of their sport are very slim. I knew I couldn’t play
professionally, so I decided to play DIII and get a good education.”
In May, Kirkemo graduated with a degree in civil engineering.
Along with memories from four straight appearances in the NCAA
Tournament’s Elite Eight, she left with skills she believes she
wouldn’t have without sports.
“You get exposed to such a wide variety of people,” she says.
“Criticism, I think, is so important. You get feedback from your
coaches, sometimes it’s positive, sometimes it’s not-so-positive. I think
being able to take criticism is so beneficial because it makes you better.
I don’t think a lot of non-student-athletes get exposure to that.”
Putting It All Together
Winning, of course, is at the core of
any athletic program, and Clarkson’s
155 Women’s DIII student-athletes
(about 45 percent of its total student-
athletes) have been doing a lot of it
lately. Laurel Kane sees a link between
coaching, recruiting and academics as
one reason why.
“We have really upped our
women’s coaching staffs, and
they’ve done an excellent job,” she
says. “We’ve added majors to the
University that are more attractive to
females. We now have a physician’s
assistant program and occupational
therapy. We have a lot of female
science students and we get a lot
of young women in the business
programs. The University’s effort to
increase these types of majors that
attract females has been strategic,
and I think we’re seeing the fruits of
that labor.”
Because DIII schools don’t
offer athletic scholarships (they can,
however, offer academic ones and
financial aid packages), recruiting
student-athletes with athletic talent
who also are interested in Clarkson’s
academic programs is a key for success,
basketball coachWebster says.
“When you’re looking to sell a
school to a DIII student, academics
definitely come first,” she says.
In Ashley Loggins ’16, Webster
inherited an incredibly well-rounded
basketball player who had the
highest-scoring average and highest-
rebounding average of any player in
the program’s history.
“Ashley truly encompasses the
whole student-athlete experience,”
says Webster. It’s a rare thing to see.”
Yet somehow, Clarkson’s DIII
women’s programs are finding it
more than ever these days.
Victoria Kirkemo ’16
Christine Wright ’16 (second from left)
A Division III athlete epitomizes what it means to be a student
athlete. These student athletes compete at a high level, earn
high marks in the classroom and are able to take part in all that
the college experience has to offer. They are able to balance the
rigors on the field and in the classroom to truly succeed."
— Steve Yianoukos '72, Director of Athletics and Recreation
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