As we all know, student-athletes are a unique population. Juggling academics, practice, away games, and additional programming can be a daunting task. However, two Upward Bound Scholars managed to debunk stereotypes and misconceptions about student-athletes.
Casey "CJ" Crowley, a graduate of Adams High School, has begun his first semester at Bethel College – as a student and an athlete. Playing soccer since youth, the 5'11" defender is a four-yer letter winner for the John Adams High School Eagles who assisted in leading his squad to an IHSAA sectional runner-up finish in 2013. Crowley also picked up second team all-conference honors in 2013 and participated in the North/South Indiana All-Star Game in 2014. In his final season as a high school player, CJ was not only the team captain, but was named first team all-conference and was honored as the team's MVP (most valuable player). Casey admits that navigating the role of student and athlete can be difficult. "I remember having issues with time management and it affected by grades which ultimately, almost affected my ability to play. Fortunately, the same determination I have on the field, I applied it in the classroom to get my grades back up."
Ahmanah Woods, also a graduate of Adams High School, has begun her juorney as a Sycamore at Indiana State University. Since 4th grade, Ahmanah has had a love for speed. “I have always enjoyed running and racing toward a goal. It helps me to put things in perspective on the track and in real life.” In 2014, Woods placed 9th in the 400m dash for the state and a year later, she improved her rank by placing 6th in the 400m dash and placed 5th in the 4x400m relay at state finals. Ahmanah’s athleticism was also highlighted in the South Bend Tribune for pulling off a critical victory at this year’s state finals. At the completion of her senior year, Ahmanah graduated with an impressive 3.2 GPA.
While both students maintained a sense of academic tenacity and athleticism, they understood the athletic scholarship pool is limited. Considering soccer and track has served as an outlet and a motivational tool, not participating in their “life love” would arguably have some sense of personal impact. However, the desire to attend college never wavered.
“It would be difficult to hang-up my soccer cleats, but I’ll find a way to stay in touch with the sport,” said Crowley who also coaches local youth soccer. “I’m going to college either way.” Ahmanah also echoed the love of the sport as well, “My desire to become a track coach wouldn’t change. I’m still going to college. If I didn’t get a scholarship this year, I could see myself trying out for the team again next year. Track gave me that mindset. I have to try again.”
Fortunately, neither will have to worry about how it would feel to place their cleats back into the box…both were awarded athletic scholarships.
Congratulations to Casey “CJ” Crowley and Ahmanah Woods for exemplifying the student-athlete.