McCoy Award winner Sarah Haupt finished her four years at Penn State with a remarkable athletic and academic resume and a lasting impression in the community. Now as an NCAA Postgraduate scholarship recipient, Haupt hopes to continue making a difference.
By Jen Diefenderfer
For some collegiate athletes, the honor of competing for a school like Penn State would be a reward in itself. For senior Sarah Haupt, success takes on a multitude of facets. An accomplished athlete and student, Haupt's success encompasses the ultimate college career.
Another swim season has come to an end and with that the goodbyes will begin. A leader to her teammates and an asset to her coaches, Haupt's legacy at Penn State will not soon be forgotten. "I know that I can leave Penn State and the team knowing that I gave everything I had," says Haupt. "I have no regrets."
Penn State Head Coach Bill Dorenkott believes Haupt's greatest strengths are her competitiveness and focus, especially when the expectations are highest. As a senior, Haupt was a leader to her team throughout the season and stood as a role model. Dorenkott has seen Haupt's leadership evolve over the past four years. "She has a comfort level in sharing with her coaches and teammates and that translates into the selfless behavior which defines good leaders," says Dorenkott. "Sarah [Haupt] manages to bring out the best in others in a subtle and positive manner."
Swimming is a family affair for the Haupt family. Her brother Matt swam for Penn State, allowing Dorenkott the opportunity to get to know the family. He is a big believer that the apple does not fall far from the tree. "Penn State Swimming and Diving has a proud tradition of recruiting from the same family and it has paid dividends," says Dorenkott. Haupt had the fourth fastest backstroke in her class from Pennsylvania. "The top three wouldn't give us the time of day," says Dorenkott. "Sarah beat every one of them in college."
Haupt is a nine-time Big Ten Champion, five-time Big Ten record holder and a three-time All-American. A four-time Academic All-American and a four-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Haupt's ability to balance academics with athletics speaks volumes about her dedication and determination to her team and her studies. She is also a four-time All-Big Ten First Team honoree and garnered Big Ten Co-Swimmer of the Week accolades in November. In addition, Haupt made her fourth appearance at the 2006 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships. "I consider the fact that I was able to juggle academics along with the rigorous demands of swimming to be my greatest academic and athletic achievement," says Haupt. "Competing for a Division I program such as ours is very difficult and places a burden on your studies." Haupt's achievements mean a lot to her, but so do the memories from competing on the close-knit Nittany Lion team.
"I will always remember the memories I have with my team," says Haupt. "They have become my best friends and have been a significant part of my life these past four years. "I know that I have developed friendships that will last a lifetime."
A phenomenal swimmer, Haupt found a way to balance swimming with academic obligations as well as extracurricular demands. During her junior year she worked as a research assistant for the Health and Human Development College. This year she has worked as a research assistant for the Psychology department. Haupt has also volunteered with Penn State's LifeLink and "Penn" Pal program. The program enables student-athletes to correspond with elementary and middle school students, giving those students the opportunity to tour the campus, visit college classes and interact with student-athletes.
Haupt was recently selected as a recipient of Penn State's 2006 Ernest B. McCoy Memorial Award. The award is presented annually to one senior female and male student-athlete who has combined successful athletic participation with academic excellence. A Psychology major, Haupt has maintained a GPA over 3.6 and has consistently been named to the Dean's List throughout her four years at Penn State. She recently was awarded a prestigious NCAA postgraduate scholarship. Haupt plans to get her Masters in Community Counseling at Shippensburg University this fall with aspirations of counseling adolescents and children in the future.
Dorenkott believes his women's program is defined by a number of unique characteristics that sets it a part from other programs throughout the country. "The women on the team develop a work-driven approach to their sport, a positive attitude about academics and athletics and an unselfish commitment to team goals," says Dorenkott. "Sarah epitomizes these characteristics and helps to reinforce what it takes to be successful."
Dorenkott understands how tough it is for his swimmers to maintain a balanced lifestyle. Swimming is a sport that requires an athlete's utmost patience. Often, it takes years of continuous attention to detail "to realize an improvement that can be measured in a fraction of a second," says Dorenkott. "Sarah is very good at goal setting and delayed gratification and these attributes have worked in both the classroom and the pool and will no doubt serve Sarah [Haupt] well in her future endeavors."
A positive relationship between a coach and his or her athletes is an asset to any athletic program. One of Dorenkott's fondest memories of Haupt was during her sophomore year. During one of the team's workouts, Haupt was struggling and Dorenkott came down on her hard. After the workout, Haupt came to him in tears. Dorenkott sat Haupt down and told her that she had the potential to be truly special, but that she needed to push herself to achieve greatness.
Haupt took that advice to heart. Dorenkott says "I believe the axiom, 'we are hardest on the one's we love the most." It may have been difficult for Haupt to hear on that day, but she became special because of it and can walk away from her collegiate career with as she says, "no regrets."