By Steve Eaton, editor
Most employers don’t ask potential employees if they know how to sink a three-pointer under pressure on national television.
Huntsman student-athletes show some team
spirit — (Left to right) Brady Jardine (basketball),
Sven Poslusny (tennis), Katie Ashe (volleyball),
Brandon Broadhead (golf), Heather Heinrich
(gymnastics) and Casey Parker (cross country).
(Photo by Russ Dixon)
Brady Jardine basketball stars, on their home
court. (Photo by Sterling Morris)
Nate Bendall basketball stars, on their home court.
(Photo by Sterling Morris)
However, those who get to know Jon M. Huntsman School of Business students who have excelled in athletics and academics will likely see nothing but advantage in getting a former USU athlete on their team.
Athletes interviewed at the Huntsman School of Business talk about the need to manage time wisely, be disciplined and contribute to team goals. They talk of how being pushed to their limits in competition easily translates to the mental toughness they need to excel in school. They develop “no excuses” attitudes.
Nate Bendall, a junior majoring in finance and economics, was the starting center on this year’s regular season WAC championship basketball team that went to the NCAA tournament. Mr. Bendall, who made the 2010 WAC All-Newcomer Team, said that with the traveling and demands on his schedule, it’s easy to make excuses.
“There is always going to be a reason to not do something in life,” he said. “Coach (Stew) Morrill does not put up with any excuses here on the basketball court.”
That attitude carries over into the classroom, Mr. Bendall said. His time as an athlete has taught him to “never be satisfied and always be hungry” for improvement.
Alice Coddington, a junior majoring in marketing, agrees. She is a guard on the women’s basketball team and earned All-WAC Academic honors in 2008, in 2009 and will again in 2010.
“You push yourself hard when you play and train and then you figure you can do that in the classroom as well,” she said.
Much of it comes down to mental toughness.
“Being a college athlete is hard, with conditioning and lifting and practice all the time,” she said. “Just the mentality it takes to continually do that can apply to academics and it can carry over into other aspects of your life too.”
Competitive sports, by their very nature, create winners and losers. Dealing with adversity is part of an athlete’s curriculum.
Brady Jardine, a sophomore majoring in finance, was a power forward who earned Academic All-WAC honors in 2009 and will again in 2010. He said he’s had to work through shooting slumps and persevere as an athlete, but he said his faith gives him hope when times are difficult.
“I’ve always believed that if I’m doing things right, no matter how hard things are, they will always get better,” he said.
Hailey Swenson, a junior majoring in marketing, competes in the number one singles position on the women’s tennis team. She has led her team to four perfect 7-0 shutouts against opposing teams in the 2009 – 2010 season. She also earned Academic All-WAC honors in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
When she was in high school, Ms. Swenson said she went through a time when she couldn’t seem to win a match. Her coach taught her to focus on scoring just one point at a time.
“And that keeps you in the present, instead of thinking, ‘What if I miss this shot?’” she said.
Her experience has taught her she can succeed.
“If you want it, you can get it done,” she said. “You can find a way to overcome those obstacles and those rough patches.”
Heather Heinrich and Lyndsie Boone are captains on the gymnastics team. Ms. Heinrich is a senior majoring in management information systems who earned Academic All-WAC honors in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. Ms. Boone, a junior majoring in entrepreneurship, received Academic All-WAC honors in 2009 and 2010.
Ms. Heinrich said that academics are emphasized within USU athletics.
“They call us student-athletes because being a student comes before being an athlete,” she said.
Scott Barnes, USU athletics director, said Aggie athletes have fared well academically.
“Last year, USU had 181 student-athletes earn academic All-WAC honors, which led the league,” he said. “We are proud of our student-athletes. At USU, we build great leaders both on and off the field.”
Ms. Boone and Ms. Heinrich each said their experience as captains has taught them about leadership.
“I think that gives us kind of a big advantage, leading a team, motivating a team, and that can apply to the business field and any kind of job that you are in,” Ms. Boone said. “I’m going into entrepreneurship, so I want to start my own business. Knowing how to motivate people, keep people organized, just being in that leadership role has helped tremendously.”
Ms. Boone said she wants to go into real estate and jokes that her gymnastics has prepared her well for such a career.
“I really want to flip houses for a living,” she said. “I can flip myself, so why not flip a house?”
Heather Heinrich poses gracefully next to the George S. Eccles Business Building.
(Photo by Russ Dixon)