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Finding balance is imperative, whether it’s on the blades of a pair of hockey skates or in life. UMD junior Aaron Crandall works to obtain balance between his athletic pursuits and his academic career. Crandall maintains a 3.75 GPA, all the while contributing to the success of the UMD Bulldog men’s hockey team as one of their goalies.
He has the best cumulative grade point average of any player on his team. Last year, he was one of four Bulldogs to be honored with the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Scholar-Athlete Award, and one of ten to make the league’s All-Academic Team for 2010-2011. He freely admits though that he didn’t do it alone.
Majoring in finance and marketing, Crandall credits his professors and his coaches with helping him to stay focused in both areas of his life. “Establishing a good relationship with my professors and maintaining an open line of communication is important, especially when my schedule gets hectic,” he said.
His coaches encourage academic excellence. “Even during the recruiting process, the coaches stressed education. They understand. Academics are a huge thing.” Like his professors, Crandall’s coaches strive to be accommodating. “They try to make sure that the players have time for classes. Sometimes they will start a practice later, to help with a class schedule. It can be tough, especially on the seniors,” he said.
The Lakeville native, who began playing hockey when he was about four years old, also gets a lot of support from his family. He chose UMD because it was close to home and as he says, “It was a dream of mine for a long time to play in the WCHA.”
His younger brother, Justin, a freshman, is also a Bulldog hockey. “It’s been fun to play together,” he said. “And it’s pretty cool for my parents.” Justin plays as a forward. “I don’t think my mom could take having two goalies in the family,” he laughed. While Crandall admits goaltending can be nerve racking at times, he loves the challenge, and he is carrying on a family tradition. “My dad was a goalie for Ohio State,” he said.
Crandall has given his brother some guidance on navigating the world of academics and collegiate sports. "My brother is planning to go in to the same major I am in, so I helped him pick out his class schedule when he was coming in to UMD. I steered him towards a few classes and teachers that I liked and found helpful," Crandall said.
He had advice for his brother that is applicable to any student athlete. "I repeated to him that he should let his teachers know early on in the class that he is an athlete and to give his professors a schedule of what dates we will be missing for hockey. My biggest advice to anyone entering college is to build a face-to-face relationship with your teachers. If a teacher can put a name with a face and can tell that you are putting up a genuine effort to do well in their class, it will do wonders for how much better your experience in the class will be," he said.
Crandall wants to keep playing hockey, and when he no longer wants to play, he would like to stay in the industry. “I would be interested in the financial side of hockey or in sports marketing,” he said. No doubt, Crandall will achieve balance.
Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, March 2012
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