By Brent Pelella
Sports Information Staff
The irony of student-athletics is that in some cases - especially at the Division I level -- the 'athlete' has become much more recognizable than the 'student'. The classroom has turned into a distraction for some, so it's nice to see a needle in the haystack every once in a while.
At left: Lauren Hultzman
Lauren Hultzman is just that.
The senior track & field sensation has performed on and off the field throughout her entire career. Last year, as a junior, she was acknowledged for her achievements both academically and athletically.
The accolade, presented by the National Collegiate Track and Field Association, requires the finalists to be in the top 30 nationally in their event and have a grade-point average of 3.5 or higher. Hultzman is appreciative of this prestigious opportunity, "It's always been a challenge to manage my time. I make a conscious effort to dedicate myself to both sports and academics."
At Eastern, the 5-foot-8 inch Hultzman holds indoor (5-3 1/4) and outdoor (5-5 3/4) program records in the high jump, as well as indoor pentathlon (2885 points) and outdoor (4028) heptathlon program marks.
As a junior in outdoor competition last spring, the Health and Physical Education major won her second straight Little East Conference and New England Alliance outdoor high jump championships and earned All-New England recognition by taking a share of third place in the New England Open (which includes Division I, II and III) and a second in the New England Division III Championships. In the heptathlon last spring, she was fifth in the Division III Championships.
For her achievements, Hultzman shared Eastern's award as the Individual Sport Athlete-of-the-Year last year. Academically, she earned an E-Club Scholar-Athlete Award and qualified for a spot on the Little East Academic Honor Roll both indoor and outdoor.
As a young girl, Hultzman realized how important time management would be as an athlete. She aspired to become a veterinarian, so growing up it was imperative to balance schoolwork and sports. Going into ninth grade, she decided to join the agricultural program at her local high school, which would add to her packed schedule.
In the next four years at Killingly High School, the Putnam native made her mark as an extraordinary high jumper while qualifying for the National Honor Society. Four years later, she has continued to develop and mature. Her track & field coach at Eastern, Kathy Manizza, touched on that topic as well, "Lauren is so close to reaching her goal of qualifying for the nationals (in the high jump), and has been working really hard toward it. On the other hand, she's also been a very good leader for the underclassmen."
Her experience as a captain this season will be another added challenge, but one well worth it, "I'm excited for the next chapter in my life. Right after I graduate I want to start coaching and working with my major, said Hultzman,
As a PE major, it looks as though Lauren will be working within sports for a long time to come. She's exemplified qualities that every athletic institution looks to instill in all their athletes. Manizza expressed what coaching Lauren has meant to her, "She is a great athlete and an even better competitor. She always wants to get better, and it has shown throughout her time here."
The correlation of some athletes' performance on the playing field and in the classroom is disturbingly conflicting, but cases such as Lauren Hultzman show that stability can be obtained on both ends. It comes down to two things, both of which can be highlighted in Lauren's character from just ten minutes talking to her: determination and motivation.