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Long-Standing History of Scholar-Athletes

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Students Give Credit to Outstanding UMD Faculty and Coaching Staff


Scholar Athlete Teams

Nearly eight decades of intercollegiate athletics at the University of Minnesota Duluth has been combined with an equally strong academic foundation.  The academic programs, faculty, and staff have a long-standing history of preparing UMD student-athletes with approximately 94 percent graduating while participating in a varsity sport for at least four years.  Historically, nearly one-third of the students have been honored as scholar-athletes by maintaining a high GPA during their undergraduate or graduate studies, and UMD has traditionally led its conference in the number of scholar-athletes.

During the last academic year, UMD’s athletes achieved even more success:  the percentage of athletes who earned the distinction of scholars climbed from one-third to 40%, according to statistics provided by the UMD Office of Institutional Research.   

In 2011, 77 UMD student-athletes secured Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference All-Academic honors and 18 Bulldogs (10 men and eight women) were named to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association All-Academic Team. Of that group, six (four men and two women) earned WCHA Scholar-Athlete status for maintaining a 3.50 grade point average or above. In addition, UMD’s 338 student-athletes, which includes redshirted freshmen, collectively posted a grade point average of 2.995 with 71 who achieved GPA’s of 3.50 or above, and seven succeeded with perfect 4.00 GPA’s.  

Although the rigorous training and number of games intensifies the student-athlete schedule, many of the students give credit to the faculty and coaching staff for guiding them through their academic and athletic careers.   

According to scholar-athlete Kenny Reiter, who has just completed his fifth year as Bulldog goalie for the men’s hockey team and is also pursuing his master of business degree at the UMD Labovitz School of Business and Economics, “The UMD coaching staff and the professors emphasize that academics come first, and our advisors have been incredibly helpful,” said Reiter. “In some cases, classes are spaced rather closely to our practice schedule.  In those instances, it can be stressful but our coaching staff has been great in realigning our practice and workout schedules to allow us enough time to make it to class everyday.  The campus support system is a strong contributor to my success. ” Reiter graduated with a 3.5 in 2011 with a finance degree at UMD, and was named a WCHA Scholar-Athlete Award recipient for the fourth year in a row this past winter.  He also qualified for his third straight WCHA All-Academic Team honor in 2011.

For UMD senior Katie Bolf, her experience as a scholar-athlete for the Bulldog tennis team while completing her degree in finance at the UMD Labovitz School of Business and Economics has been a successful challenge.  “My first day as a freshman at UMD, I knew that I was stepping into something great.  I met with athletic directors, NCAA compliance officers, and the tennis team captain gave us a tour of the weight room and athletic facilities.  I just kept thinking, ‘wow, this place is amazing.’  The past four years have proven my first impression over and over again.  The faculty and coaches really supported my goals as an athlete and student. I give them a lot of credit for putting together a strong program of success.”  Currently, Bolf is 9-2 overall at #1 singles, the first player selected as NSIC player of the week for the 2012 season, and she will receive the third nomination into All-Academic Team this spring. Bolf will graduate with a 3.5 GPA with her first, post-graduate job secured at Cliff’s Natural Resources, a Fortune 500 company located in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Also among UMD’s scholar-athletes are European players recruited to play for the Bulldogs.  Originally from Bavaria, UMD senior Jennifer Harss recently concluded her fourth year as the women’s hockey goalie and is graduating this spring with a 3.0 in marketing. Bolf has earned a career-best 1.85 GAA with 351 saves.  She’s ranked number 10 in the NCAA with a winning percentage of .679, fourth in the WCHA with a saves percentage in league games of .927, and earned her first career assist against Minnesota on October 29, 2010, and has been the Bulldog assistant captain for the 2011-2012 season evidenced by the “A” on her uniform. She was also recently selected as one of four UMD women hockey players who will play for their national teams this April in the 2012 Women’s World Championship.  Bolf credits the faculty and coaching support that led to her success as a bilingual student.  “At UMD, there is a lot of emphasis on doing well academically and athletically.  This is such an educationally supportive campus. No one is left behind, no matter where you’re from or what language you speak. It’s also about who you surround yourself with and the coaches have done a great job in making sure that new students, freshmen in particular, are with upperclassmen.  When I saw the upperclassmen studying while traveling for games, I realized that’s how it was done. Sacrifice is part of being a good athlete and good student.  Sometimes the social life has to go, but it’s worth it. ”


Written and Designed by Christiana Kapsner, May 2012

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