Bulldogs Excel in the Classroom and on the Field
Sophomore Katie Lee juggles soccer practice and Smittcamp classes.
Sophomore Katie Lee juggles soccer practice and Smittcamp classes.

Oct. 23, 2008

FRESNO, Calif. - Student-athletes are committed to their sport and academics and they perform a juggling act of school and athletics day in and day out. It is easy to say student-athletes lead a busy life.

There are several Bulldog athletes that not only excel in their sport, but also in the class. Aside from having high GPAs and competing athletically, Megan Ashjian (soccer), Katie Lee (soccer), Annie Bledsoe (track and Field), Eric Battles (track and field), and Stephanie Hatayama (swimming), are enrolled in the Smittcamp Honors program at Fresno State.

"It takes a truly exceptional young person to make the commitment to participate in both Honors College and Division I athletics," said Susan Gutkind, Assistant Athletic Director of Academics at Fresno State. "The rewards are tremendous, but the path requires compromise and a lot of hard work."

The Smittcamp Honors program accepts the Top 50 High School seniors each year. The requirements to be admitted to the program are at least at 3.6 GPA, 1800 or higher on SAT, and the applicant is within the top ten percent of their graduating class. Once admitted to the program there is requirements that must be met each year.

"We have a certain GPA we have to maintain each year," said Ashjian. "It goes up as you go through the program."

As a freshman in the program students must meet a 3.0 GPA. In your sophomore year the GPA requirement is 3.25 and then as a junior a 3.4 GPA or higher.

Smittcamp students are also required to take two honor classes a semester. These classes can vary from psychology to creative writing.

"The honor classes are a lot smaller," said Lee. "We are going into our third semester, so we know our peers and the conversation is more intimate."

Another requirement of the Smittcamp honors program is community service. As a freshman, students complete 30 hours of community service. The remaining three years in the program students complete 20 hours of community service per year. There are many different ways for student-athletes to get involved in the community.

"Last year, I helped with a blood drive, done things with the 4-H club, and helped out with recycling projects," said Hatayama.

Student-athletes face the challenge of juggling school and sports and split their time on the field and in the library. Student-athletes usually practice two hours a day and lift for an hour twice a week. There are also games, matches, and meets to throw in. Student-athletes are busy six days a week focusing on their sport. When practices or games end it is straight to the books.

"Practice is two hours and weights for an hour and games, so around 10 hours on soccer," said Ashjian. "School wise it depends on the workload. I have only had one all-nighter this year."

The key for many student-athletes is staying organized and each has their own way of staying organized.

"As an honor student and athlete you have to be really organized," said Hatayama. "The weekends are for catching up or getting ahead with school work."

For Lee and Ashjian it helps that they are teammates and classmates.

"We have almost identical schedules," said Ashjian. "We help each other with homework and we remind each other of things coming up, it is really helpful."

If you ask a Smittcamp student-athlete what they do in their spare time, most responded with a chuckle and asked what free time.

"It's hard to fit in a life outside school and practice," said Hatayama. "Participating in both keeps me organized and makes feel like I have accomplished something."

Smittcamp students graduate with honors in four years and earn an inscribed Smittcamp Family Honors College bronze medallion.

For these students the extra time and effort put into the classroom is worth it and although difficult at times the challenge is what drives them.

"I get to be in class with some of the smartest people I know, I play soccer with most talented girls, and that makes it a good day," said Lee.

"Join the State, Fresno State!" - The `Dogs welcome Boise State to Bulldog Stadium on Friday, October 24 at 7 p.m. It's Take a Kid to the Game Night and all kids 8th grade and under receive FREE admission to the match when accompanied by a paid adult. It's also Fresno State Faculty and Staff Appreciation Night and all Fresno State Faculty and Staff will receive $2 admission with the presentation of their Faculty/Staff ID at the box office. To purchase tickets, click on the tickets icon at the top of this page, call the Bulldog Ticket Office at (559) 278-DOGS, or stop by the Bulldog Ticket Office.