As Mark Emmert, President of the NCAA, and probably David Benedict as well, would be quick to remind you, intercollegiate athletics is based around the idea of “student-athlete” with being a student taking precedent.
But with the nature of competitive sports and programs, sometimes academic priorities slip.
Such is not the case for UConn redshirt sophomore Ashley Rich, member of the recently crowned 2017 National Championship Field Hockey team.
The team was perfect on the field this season, going 23-0 en route to their championship.
In the classroom, Rich was not far off.
While appearing in 20 games, starting five, and picking up three assists was good work from the third-year student from Stamford and Westhill High School, her academic prowess has been quite profound as well.
Rich will agree that in her life, she has benefited from both.
“My success in the classroom can really be attributed to my commitment to productivity which is something I also try to apply to my athletic endeavors. I end up using a lot of my free time to either study for exams or get in an extra workout to stay in optimal shape during the season since nursing would often conflict with our team's strength and conditioning sessions,” she says.
While in Louisville, Kentucky for the Final Four, Rich was recognized by the NCAA as an Elite 90 recipient.
According to the NCAA, “The ELITE 90, an award founded by the NCAA, recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The Elite 90 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s 90 championships.”
Rich is a student in the School of Nursing at UConn and boasts stellar a 3.985 GPA. Surprisingly it wasn’t some nursing course that tripped her up from paragon. According to Rich, “It’s funny actually because I’ve had some of my hardest classes these past two semesters but I for some reason could not manage to pull off an A in my freshman year elective history class.”
Prior to UConn she was enlightened on what path she wanted to go down, “I always knew I wanted to go into healthcare and I’m a nurturer at heart, but it was my time volunteering at Stamford Hospital in high school that confirmed nursing was the career I wanted to pursue.”
She is also a member of the World Language National Honor Society and National Honor Society. She is a recipient of the University of Michigan Book Award for Academic Excellence in English.
To do all this requires considerable effort but Rich has found a way to make things work.
“My time-management skills are critical to my success in the classroom and on the field. My schedule can be overwhelming at times, but it helps to plan out my week ahead of time, write everything down in my planner and check it off the list as I go.”
Next year things will be different. The Field Hockey team will lose dynamic seniors like Charlotte Veitner and Nina Klein. Despite have two years of playing eligibility left, Rich will be taking their place as final year player while attempting to graduate in exemplar standing.
“I’m on the nursing track so I’ll actually only be playing one more year since I’m hoping to be working right after graduation, but it definitely won’t be easy. I’m not too concerned though because I’ve always been willing to put in the time and effort in the classroom.”
On the team continuing success: “It’ll be a process to adjust to not having our seniors on the field with us because they are 100 percent irreplaceable but I'm confident in the squad we have and our coaches’ ability to bring in players that will offer a new dynamic.”
Matt Barresi is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.