Success with Honor: Molly Crispell
Dec. 11, 2007
By Tony Mancuso, Athletic Communications Student Assistant
The student portion of the phrase student-athlete often gets overlooked in the modern period of intercollegiate athletics. Excellence on the field of play tends to trump academic achievement.
Therefore, what senior Penn State swimmer Molly Crispell has accomplished in her time as a Nittany Lion can be viewed as extraordinary. Two trips to the NCAA Swimming Championships and All-Big Ten honors in the pool are superb achievements by themselves, but coupled with a 4.0 GPA in bio-behavioral health and a staggering list of academic awards makes Crispell a special student-athlete.
"Penn State really does emphasize the `student' portion of `student-athlete,'" said Crispell. "Our coach often reminds us that our `jobs' at Penn State are to be good family members, good students and good athletes--in that order. We're lucky to have coaches and family members who support our academic goals just as much as our athletic ones."
The former State College Area High School graduate grew up in Boalsburg, and was destined to be a Nittany Lion. Her mother Maggie is the Director of Development for the College of Health and Human Development on campus. Crispell's brother Loren serves as the Director of Marketing for the Penn State men's and women's basketball teams. With that being said, attending Penn State was a natural fit for Crispell.
"I definitely grew up in a very Penn State Proud family," Crispell said. "I feel blessed to have been able to experience some of the Penn State pride and traditions that I've grown up with."
Her time at Penn State has been nothing short of magnificent. The Lion senior specializes in freestyle swimming for the team. Last spring, Crispell was part of the 800m freestyle relay team that finished third at the Big Ten Championships and 14th at the NCAA Championships.
"Being a Penn State athlete has introduced me to remarkably talented and dedicated individuals, and we are all so lucky to have access to the opportunities that the university provides," said Crispell. "I owe a lot to my teammates and coaches, because there are so many challenging and rewarding lessons that are hard to duplicate outside of athletics."
Going hand-in-hand with Crispell's achievements in the pool last season are her list of academic Awards, which includes Academic All-Big Ten honors for the second straight season. She was also named to the first team all-district academic team and Second Team CoSIDA ESPN the Magazine Academic All American in the spring.
"Swimming has helped me to be careful about organizing my time, and like any student-athlete, there all always some sacrifices," she said. "Ultimately, as a team we understand that our primary responsibilities are as students first, and athletes second."
Crispell's time in the pool at Penn State has been much more than chalking up a series of stellar accomplishments. As any student-athlete would note, her time with teammates has built relationships that will last a lifetime.
"(They are) talented and unbelievably committed to their goals and the program," said Crispell. "It's pretty humbling to be a part of such a hard working group of girls. Any group of college students willing to train before dawn might also be a little bit nuts."
"In all seriousness, they pretty much defy description. They come from all over the country and even the world, and everyone brings their own skills to the table. We have Olympic Trial qualifiers and record holders who are so modest that they would never share their credentials, incredible students who balance the demands of 6 a.m. practices with difficult courses, a few who unfortunately have dealt with injury gracefully and optimistically, and everyone is very supportive of each other's goals in and out of the pool."
With Crispell, one can truly see how much of a privilege it has been to be a student-athlete for a team at Penn State.
"It's a chance to be a part of something so much bigger than my individual goals," she said. "Swimming has taught me the power of a group of people working for a common purpose."
Although her accomplishments in athletics and academics speak for themselves, Crispell's Penn State experience has set her up to begin a successful life in whatever she chooses to do after graduation.
"Hopefully in five years I'll be done with graduate school and working in a hospital," she said. "Regardless, I know the lessons I've learned at Penn State will stay with me."