Within the past year, Shenandoah has had more than 500 applicants for its 40-member Physical Therapy class.
Student athletes pictured, from left: Kerby Hatter, Rachel Maki, Kyle Feldman, Nick Erdman, Brooke Over, Denise Mitchell
One of the most unique convergences of academics and athletics extended itself recently with the decision of two Shenandoah University student-athletes.
Football player Nick Erdman ’13 and cross country/softball star Denise Mitchell ’12, both juniors athletically, were offered admission into Shenandoah University’s Physical Therapy program.
With acceptance of that admission, Erdman and Mitchell become two members of the PT Class of 2015.
This past year, Shenandoah had more than 500 applicants for its 40-member PT class.
This means that next year, as Erdman and Mitchell finish their final seasons in Hornet uniforms, they add to a growing list of SU student-athletes to compete while in a Doctoral program.
This past fall, volleyball player Rachel Maki ’11, ’14 D. PT and football player Kyle Feldman ’11, ’14 D. PT competed while in their first year of PT school.
Maki and Feldman were both indispensable members of their teams in 2011 with Maki co-leading the team in service aces per set, finishing second in blocks and third in kills.
Feldman had a breakout season as the Hornets third receiver, making 33 receptions for 382 yards and three touchdowns.
His TD against Maryville (Tenn.) in the middle of October proved to be the game-winner.
Women’s basketball player Kerby Hatter and softball star Brooke Over, in their first years in the Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy, round out the current student-athletes as Doctoral candidates.
Hatter and Over complete their collegiate athletics careers this winter and spring, respectively.
Hatter averages just over 14 minutes of playing time per game as one of the top subs on the women’s basketball team and has earned Academic All-USA South honors three times so far in her career.
For Hatter, the task of playing while in graduate school is excellent preparation for post-collegiate life. “This has forced me to grow up,” Hatter said.
“I knew it (the academics) would be tough, but I had no idea how organized I would have to be to make it work.
“The way I look at it is, if I can handle this, I can handle anything else that comes up.”
Over, a three-time All-USA South selection in softball, pitched her team to its first-ever league championship with five wins and a save in the 2011 USA South Conference Tournament. In addition to the three All-USA South honors at pitcher, Over was named as the league’s Rookie Pitcher of the Year in 2009.
Her MVP performance last spring helped Shenandoah capture the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament and Over finished the year with a program-record 23 victories.
Looking forward, Over’s teammate, sophomore Heather Sink, is a pre-admit to the Doctor of Pharmacy program. Should Sink, who has earned All-Academic and All-USA South honors already in her short career, continue her academic success, she will become a Doctor of Pharmacy candidate as soon as the fall of 2013.
“Pharmacy school definitely made me realize what was important for me to complete on a daily basis and how to manage my time accordingly.”
These student-athletes continue a practice that started in the late 1990s and includes such standout players such as Alexis Hargbol ’10, ’13 PharmD (basketball), Dr. Catherine Beuerle ’07, ’10 D. PT (softball), Dr. Katie Haskins ’08, ’11 D. PT (softball), and Dr. Renee Summerson ’11 PharmD (soccer).
Beuerle, Hargbol, Haskins and Summerson all earned All-USA South accolades during their careers with Beuerle, Haskins, Summerson (and Feldman this year) being named as Academic All-Americans.
Hargbol, halfway through her graduate work, still is a fixture at her former team’s home games.
“Pharmacy school definitely made me realize what was important for me to complete on a daily basis and how to manage my time accordingly,” Hargbol said. “It definitely wasn’t easy and I found myself running around town from class to practice to meetings to the training room and ultimately ended up being exhausted most days.
“After my senior season, my grades improved. However, playing a sport for my first two years of grad school made me understand the importance of a balanced lifestyle.
“Without basketball, I honestly don’t think I would have been as successful in the Pharmacy program. I still make time to support the basketball team by attending most games and helping out at practices when I can.”
All of these student-athletes came to Shenandoah as pre-admits to their respective programs.
In Erdman and Mitchell’s cases, this meant that before coming to SU in the fall of 2009, they interviewed for and were granted exclusive pre-admit status to 3.4 grade point average both overall and in outlined prerequisite courses, conduct over 100 hours of clinical observation with practicing physical therapists and complete a successful interview with the Department of Physical Therapy faculty.
Erdman and Mitchell were then offered admission to the program upon successful completion of the prerequisites.
Much like the previous student-athletes who have attempted this unique combination, the two are high achievers in both athletics and academics.
Mitchell, who took over from Beuerle as the starting catcher for the softball team, also found time to pick up cross country this past fall. As one of the top runners for the regionally-ranked harriers, Mitchell earned All-USA South accolades and helped the team to a runner-up performance at the conference championships.
Starting all 90 games at catcher since enrolling at SU, Mitchell helped the team to its first-ever conference title last spring and over 50 combined wins in her two seasons.
Erdman has started every game on the defensive line for the football team since arriving on campus and has earned All-USA South honors the past two years.
This past season, he finished second in the league in sacks.
Off the field, both Erdman and Mitchell have been named VaSID Academic All-State and have been inducted into the numerous honor societies including Alpha Lambda Delta (freshman honor society), Psi Chi (psychology honor society) and Omicron Delta Kappa (leadership and extracurricular honor society).
“I am very excited about this opportunity,” Erdman said. “In talking to Kyle and Rachel, they both told me that I am going to be challenged more academically than I ever have been before, and that playing sports on top of it is going to make it even more difficult.
“However, they both said it was worth it in the end. This is going to be a great experience.”
— story assistance from Dr. Karen Abraham, PT, PhD; Jean Swartz, Admissions; and Nick Erdman ’13