Dave Walsh: UW Student-Athletes Have That ‘Wow’ Factor

Dave Walsh writes, “I’ve always been impressed by the ability of the college athlete. What these young competitors do on the fields and floors, on the tracks and in the water is remarkable.”

Dave Walsh

July 13, 20234 min read

Dave walsh Uw

I’ve always been impressed by the ability of the college athlete. What these young competitors do on the fields and floors, on the tracks and in the water is remarkable.

These athletes perform consistently at an exceptionally high level. And the feats they accomplish are generally worth of oohs and aahs. For many, and I am one, “wow” has become more commonplace in our viewing vocabulary.

I don’t know how many times I find myself just muttering “wow” during a game. Any game. I find myself “wowing” at just about any sporting event.

I often react that way at University of Wyoming Cowboys or Cowgirl events. I’m so taken by the special spirit of competition, the intensity and desire that is shown at the college level.

And the performances reflect that.

When one realizes that these nonprofessionals are taking on the challenge of competing at that level, and going to school, well, it’s even more impressive. Doing both — competing in a sport and competing in the classroom — at the same time is not easy.

Some student-athletes excel in both.

Can you imagine being at the top of your sport and getting excellent grades?

In fact, eight Wyoming swimmers and divers have been recognized for their work in both venues.

The College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America has named its individual Scholar All-Americans. Eight UW swimmers are on the list.

All eight of the Wyoming honorees were second-teamers. To qualify, second-team honorees had to have a cumulative grade-point-average of 3.5 or higher and achieve a “B” time standard for the NCAA Championships or competed in a Diving Zones Championships.

Alicia Gonzalez, Gabriella Haigler, Nettie Knapton and Carly Palmer all earned second-team Scholar All-American status for the Cowgirls.

Quinn Cynor, Grant Sloan, Gavin Smith and Harry Tjaden were the four Cowboys recognized as College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association Scholar All-Americans.

For most college athletes it is all about managing time, sticking to a very structured schedule and maintaining the desire to do both. Most college athletes will say that there must be equal amounts of time delegated to school and sport.

Most sports are physically demanding. I suppose if one goes full speed, all sports are physically demanding.

Swimming is very physically demanding. Swim workouts are notoriously brutal. There is no glory in swimming laps. It’s not easy, and it is a grind unlike any other.

And that’s not just the observation of one who competed in the sport many seasons ago.

Ask any swimmer. They’ll tell you. They’ll admit that the training is tough. The workouts are brutal, and they’ll tell you so.

Swimming is one of those sports where the training is so much harder than the event itself. The race is the final chapter in the story, and it is so much more fun than the time spent leading up to it.

This is a very physically demanding sport.

And as in most sports, you must be strong-willed to compete at a high level. The sport can be mentally demanding as well.

So, for a swimmer competing at this level, to also excel in the classroom, is quite an accomplishment.

We constantly marvel at the performances of our favorite athletes. And when we take into consideration that there is also a classroom obligation, their actions are even more appreciated.

These aren’t just students.

They aren’t only athletes.

It takes a great deal of dedication and sacrifice, but they are both.

They are indeed student-athletes.

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Dave Walsh

Sports Columnist