April 8, 2014
HOUSTON - Sunday marked the 27th annual celebration of National Student-Athlete Day. On the day, student-athletes across the nation are celebrated for their hard work on the field, excellence in academics and their dedication to the community.
These student-athletes have gone above and beyond to ensure that they represent the best of what their school has to offer. This year, the University of Houston celebrated 22 of its own student-athletes who earned the achievement.
National Student-Athlete Day was created by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports along with Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sports in Society in 1987. Students who are eligible for the honor must participate in school athletics, have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and must be actively involved in outreach and community service.
McLean received the Conference USA Winter Spirit of Service Award and earned a place on the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll for the 2012-2013 season. He received his bachelor’s degree in health promotions in the summer of 2013 and is currently pursuing his graduate degree at the University of Houston. McLean is also heavily involved with the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC), an organization dedicated to providing athletes with the opportunity to give back to the community.
King was named to the American Athletic Conference First Team in pole vault for 2014 after placing third at the conference indoor championships. She cleared a personal best 4.15m (13'-7.25") at the season opening Texas A&M Reveille Invitational, setting a meet record in the process as well. King is currently studying kinesiology and hopes to enter the Texas Chiropractic College to eventually become a professional chiropractor. This past year alone she also participated in over 120 hours of community service.
When McLean learned he was receiving the honor, he was both excited and proud to be one of the 22 student-athletes being honored.
“It’s a great achievement because it proves that I’m much more than just an athlete, I’m a student as well. I can excel and go to class the same way that I go to practices, so I think that’s a great thing,” said McLean.
Admittedly, McLean points out it was his mother who inspired him to do his best in the classroom, as well as on the court.
“My mother always pushed me to do well in school. She said no matter how many practices I had or what it came down to, I could always come home and do my homework. So I kept that same motivation from when I was younger until I got where I am now, that’s why I’m successful,” he added.
For King, it was her parents, coaches and Sasha Blake, the Director of the Houston Athletics Leadership Academy, who helped her get to where she is today.
“My parents have always been a huge influence on me. My coach, Kyle Tellez, is an amazing coach and everything that I do, I try to shine a good light on him,” said King. “Also, Sasha Blake, who is involved in SAAC is always giving me opportunities to be more involved in the community.”
For the student athletes who hope to achieve the same honor, Karley offered this simple message:
“Work hard every single day, and give 100 percent in every single thing that you do whether that’s school, track, or getting involved in the community. Put everything you’ve got into every single moment because it goes by really quick.”
One of the departments at UH that is active in helping these student athletes reach their full potential is the Leadership Academy. The Academy develops, challenges and supports student-athletes and coaches in their continual quest to become world-class leaders in athletics, academics and life. The Academy functions to equip participants at every level with the skillsets necessary to be a confident, cooperative, critical decision maker and ethical contributor in a competitive and ever-changing world.
The Director of the Leadership Academy, Blake, feels these student-athletes are UH’s best representation of who and what leaders should be.
“They are true competitors and are truly courageous. They work hard at everything they do and it’s not just one sided. They are amazing athletes, students, people and great members of this community,” said Blake.
Blake believes that National Student-Athlete Day is a great way to get to know these student-athletes as more than just athletes, but as people who care about their community.
“I think that it’s amazing when we can recognize student athletes off the field or court. I don’t think people realize what they do outside of competition, so I think it’s awesome that we can honor these athletes for their academic achievements, and involvement in the community,” added Blake.
Blake says that the University is lucky to have such caring and devoted students who provide so much for our school and community.
“We are very fortunate that we have athletes that deeply care about giving back,” said Blake. “So I think it’s neat to see what some of their passions are that don’t involve throwing, kicking, or whatever they may be.”
Whatever sports these athletes may be involved in, whether it’s soccer, basketball, softball, track, baseball, or football, they each share a common trait. They are leaders of our school, community and country.
Most importantly, they are dedicated to giving their all in everything that they do. What more could a school ask for?
Houston Student-Athletes Receiving National Student-Athlete Day Honors