By: Director of Athletic Communications and Public Relations Kevin Ruple
BEREA, Ohio -- When Katie Smith '18 came to Baldwin Wallace University four years ago from nearby Fairview Park, Ohio, she wanted to get a quality education and play on a championship women's basketball team. The first part has been easy for the Academic All-Ohio Athletic Conference guard who is the leader of an exceptional team of scholar-athletes.
"I am getting a first-class, high-quality education at BW," said Smith, a pre-physical therapy/ athletic training major with a 3.871 grade point average. "Now our basketball team is beginning to play well and I have one last chance to get another OAC title and another berth in the NCAA tournament."
Doing Their Work in the Classroom
Smith is one of 11 women's basketball student-athletes who are either a sophomore, junior or senior who have a 3.356 grade point average-or-higher. Recruiting quality student-athletes is one of the highest priorities for Head Coach Cheri Harrer.
"Katie is an exemplary student-athlete," said Harrer, who was a CoSIDA Academic All-American as a student-athlete at the University of Findlay in the 80s. "She is a great student, responsible, is a good community member, works hard and is a respectful young lady.
"Katie works extremely hard and is very conscientious regarding her coursework," said Harrer. "She doesn't back to down to academic challenges. She leads by setting an excellent example of being an excellent student as well as responsible member of the team."
Doing Her Work on the Court and Being a Mentor
It is obvious if you watch BW play that Smith is the team leader. She and backup center Megan Schubert '18 (Defiance/Ayersville), who has a 3.541 grade average in exercise science, are the only two seniors on a very young team that has improved throughout the season.
Smith and Schubert also are familiar with winning on the court. Halfway through their final season, the duo has led BW to a 72-30 record, including an NCAA Division III National Tournament berth as freshmen. They enter the home stretch this season with a 12-8 slate.
"Katie is shooting the ball extremely well," said Harrer of Smith who averages 7.3 points-per-game and shoots an incredible 51.2 percent from three-point range on 32 of 62 attempts. "She's smart in understanding how to use screens and move without the ball. She takes really good shots and is an underrated passer."
The Junior Class
The junior class also is filled with talented leaders both academically and athletically. Rachel Womeldorf '19 (Lewis Center/Olentangy) is a returning All-OAC player and starter who carries a 3.924 grade average in mathematics and education. She is joined as a returning Academic All-OAC student-athlete by MacKenzi Matthews '19 (North Royalton), who comes off the bench and is a 3.49 student in sport management. Classmate Hailey Grant '19 (North Royalton/ St. Joseph Academy) also sees action and has a 3.356 grade average in biology.
The Super Sophomores
The sophomore class is laden with six strong students, including five who have seen playing time in every Yellow Jacket game this season.
The sophomore group is led by guard Riley Schill '20 (Sheffield Village/Elyria Catholic) , who is second on the team in scoring and first with a 3.978 grade average in biology and pre-veterinary studies. She is joined as a scholar sophomore by Tiffany Bentler '20 (North Canton/Hoover) with a 3.387 grade average in athletic training, Kasey Hughes '20 (Springboro) with a 3.818 grade average in public relations, Kara Marshall '20 (Copley/ Akron Archbishop Hoban) with a 3.618 grade average in pre-physical therapy, Autumn Richards '20 (Northfield/Nordonia) who carries a 3.693 grade average in sport management and Mary Schentur '20 (Broadview Heights/ Brecksville-Broadview Hts.), who transferred into BW and owns a 3.692 grade average in mathematics and economics.
Harrer is Proud of Her Scholar-Athletes
"We extremely proud of their academic success," said Harrer. "We try to recruit great students because we believe that "how you do anything is how you do everything." If you work hard academically, you usually work hard in everything you do.
"Our players understand that, as a program, we take what they are doing in the classroom very seriously," continued Harrer. "We are especially proud that they do well is some very challenging majors. I'm incredibly excited for what these young ladies will be doing 5-to-10 years from now. They really are superstars from an academic standpoint!"
Harrer Has a Tradition is Teaching and Coaching Winners
Cheri Harrer has a history of teaching and coaching winners in the classroom and on the court. She has coached more than 100 Academic All-OAC student-athletes and produced a pair of CoSIDA Academic All-Americans in Jen Swinehart '00 and Ariel Brough '10.
"We've had some great one's," said Harrer. "Young women like Karissa Kusick '04 who is a big-time pharmacist in the Cleveland Clinic system and many others are our superstars. We have doctors, physical therapists, nurses, lawyers, speech therapists, athletic trainers, administrators, teachers, coaches among other occupations. You name the occupation, and there is a BW women's basketball student-athlete and graduate who is out there in a great career and making their mark in the world!"