Celebrating our Scholar-Athletes
By Joel Seligman
The University of Rochester is particularly proud of its scholar-athletes. Counting all forms of athletic activities, approximately 75 percent of our undergraduates participate in a varsity or club sport.
What’s truly inspiring about these young men and women is that they are as dedicated to achieving success in the classroom as they are to achieving victory at Fauver Stadium, in the Palestra, and across our playing fields. Seventy-two varsity Rochester athletes have been named Academic All-Americans since 1980, and two Rochester students have been named Academic All-American of the Year over the past decade. Our teams in cross country, soccer, track and field, swimming and diving, and field hockey are yearly winners of team academic citations for exemplary cumulative GPAs.
Their commitment to success also represents the unique strengths of Rochester and helps demonstrate why students who share a common drive for pursuing their passions are increasingly discovering our University. The special characteristics of our groundbreaking curriculum and our pioneering approach to integrating academics and extracurricular activities provide an extraordinary range of opportunities for students to excel in all facets of their lives on campus.
At a gala dinner in May, the College’s Department of Athletics and Recreation recognized the accomplishments of individual Yellowjackets as well as those of Rochester’s great sports teams.
Several examples of this year’s senior award winners were notable:
Matthew Bielecki ’08: A record-breaking running back for the Yellowjackets football team, the political science major from Ballston Lake, N.Y., won the 2008 John Vitone Award, honoring a male athlete for outstanding sportsmanship in the men’s intercollegiate sports program. Matthew was a two-time team captain and represented the University in the Aztec Bowl, the NCAA Division III’s all-star game.
Rachel Cahan ’08: The goalkeeper for the women’s field hockey team is a mechanical engineering major from Evanston, Ill. She won the 2008 Female Scholar-Athlete Award for excellence in the classroom and for serving as a role model for fellow students. A second team Academic All-American, a two-time regional All-American, and a Liberty League Rookie of the Year, Rachel was named to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Scholar-Athlete team in each of her four seasons.
Anjuli Cherukuri ’08: The pole-vaulting biology major from Salisbury Center, N.Y., won the Sylvia Fabricant Award, presented annually to a female athlete for outstanding sportsmanship in the women’s intercollegiate sports program. Anjuli helped the Yellowjackets win the 2008 Indoor New York State Collegiate Track Conference team championship in March.
Stephen Goodridge ’08: The winner of the 2006 NCAA Division III championship in golf, Stephen is an optics major from Attica, N.Y. He is the winner of the 2008 Louis Alexander Alumni Award, honoring a male member of the senior class who has made an outstanding contribution to the life of the College through his significant achievements in athletics and general student activities. The award also recognizes Stephen’s character and leadership qualities as an influence on his fellow students. A three-time All-American and NCAA Freshman of the Year, Stephen was also an Academic All-American and was chosen as a Scholar-Athlete by the Golf Coaches Assocaition of America.
Andy Rape ’08: A defensive back on the football team and a biomedical engineering major from Zelienople, Pa., Andy won the 2008 Male Scholar-Athlete Award for excellence in the classroom and for serving as a role model for his fellow students. He also was a first-team Academic All-American.
Ashley Van Vechten ’08: A German and history double major from Brighton, N.Y., and a star defender on the women’ soccer team, Ashley won the 2008 Merle Spurrier Award, honoring the senior woman who has made the most outstanding contribution to women’s sports by demonstrating qualities such as leadership, enthusiasm, and service in her four years at the University. A three-time All-American, she was named a Scholar-Athlete by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America as well as an Academic All-American. Ashley also received a Fulbright Scholarship, with which she plans to continue her studies in Germany.
By any measure, these new graduates are an impressive group of young men and women. I am proud that they have represented the University so well over the past four years, and I’m confident that they will continue to do so as alumni.
I want to congratulate them, their teammates, and all Yellowjacket athletes—past and present—and I applaud their commitment to success both on the field and off.