Huskies given winter scholar award


(From left) Mikayla Voigt, women’s basketball sophomore guard, senior gymnast Megan Greenfield, Austin Pauga, sophomore men’s basketball guard and Hope Schmelzle, senior track and field runner were all named to the winter sports Distinguished Scholar-Athlete team. NIU gave 14 student-athletes the award. 

By Tom Burton

DeKALB — The Huskies named 14 student-athletes to the Distinguished Scholar-Athlete team from the winter sports season, surpassing the six athletes who were named to the program a year ago.

The Distinguished Scholar-Athlete Award is given to student-athletes who excel in their sport and academics. The athletes were announced April 20.

The qualifications for the program include being named to the Academic All-Conference team for their respective sports, having a GPA of at least 3.2, being an NIU student-athlete for a full year and being active for at least 50 percent of their respective team competitions, according to an April 20 NIU Media Services release.

Among the athletes honored are six basketball players, four indoor track and field athletes and four gymnasts. Sophomore forward Austin Pauga made the list as the lone men’s basketball representative with a 3.782 cumulative GPA in mechanical engineering.

Kelly Smith, women’s basketball junior forward, is being honored for the second time with a 3.764 cumulative GPA in biological sciences.

Joining Smith from the team is senior guard Cassidy Glenn with a 3.515 GPA in biological sciences, sophomore guard Mikayla Voigt with a 4.0 GPA in nursing and sophomore forward Courtney Woods with a 3.674 GPA in pre-physical therapy.

Voigt said she appreciates being honored for her hard work.

“I think it’s an honor to be recognized for all of the hard work [I] and all my teammates put in,” Voigt said.

Voigt said balancing basketball and her nursing major was challenging during the basketball season and that she expects it to get even harder.

“It’s definitely challenging,” Voigt said. My first semester [in nursing] was this spring, and it’s not full clinical yet, but next semester will be. Scheduling is something that will definitely be more of a challenge for me going forward.”

The distinguished scholar-athlete team also welcomes four new senior representatives from the indoor track and field team — Kedisha Dallas with a 3.978 GPA in communication, Alexandria Isom with a 3.920 GPA in journalism, Alison Olson with a 4.0 GPA in sports management and Hope Schmelzle with a 4.0 GPA in psychology.

Four Huskie gymnasts made the list of honorees, including second-year honoree senior Jamyra Carter, with a 3.271 GPA in communication and Megan Greenfield with a 3.889 GPA in kinesiology. Other gymnasts making the scholar-athlete team include sophomore Anna Martucci with a 3.614 GPA in marketing and junior Katherine Prentice with a 3.540 GPA in nursing.

Greenfield said it’s great athletes are able to balance school and their respective sports, and that is something she tries to do consistently.

“A lot of people who are student-athletes focus on being an athlete more than the students, and balancing those two things is something I pride myself on,” Greenfield said.

As one of the four second-year honorees, Greenfield also appreciates the number rising from six to 12 honorees and hopes the trend continues in the future.

“It’s good that the numbers are going up, which means a lot more students are focusing on being students and not just athletes. So, I think it’s great for the student body as a whole,” Greenfield said.

The distinguished scholar-athlete team is made up of people who put in equal time and effort to their athletic and academic careers as NIU students.