For successful athletes, academics and sports merge
By Dave Geringer and Jamie Schanback
Crystal Wheelock • Volleyball
A senior academically but junior eligibility-wise, Nanook
volleyball player Crystal Wheelock
is making the most of her collegiate experience. The Anchorage native
will complete a bachelor's degree this year with a double major in psychology and sociology.
A multi-sport athlete, Wheelock competed in softball and volleyball at East High School in Anchorage
and cross country running and track and field in middle school. Her quickness and agility made
her stand out. She opted to red-shirt her first season at UAF, which meant participating in
all of the team's regular practices and meetings on top of carrying a full load all year,
but not playing in any official games.
Her career at UAF was severely shaken toward the end of her freshman year with the death
of her father. Wheelock stayed in Fairbanks that summer finishing some incompletes
and maintaining her physical training. "You can choose to let adversity control you or you can control
it," she said referring to how she got through the difficult period.
Although her role has changed from season to season, switching from the outside hitter position
to become the Nanooks' libero (a special defensive player who can move freely on the
court) the last two seasons, she has continued to excel on the court and lead her teammates
by example. She set personal and conference records for most digs in a game, and when given
the opportunity to hit, dominated with her speed and craftiness.
She has also excelled in her classes, being named to the dean's list three times and the
chancellor's list once within the past five semesters.
Wheelock gives credit to her teammates and friends for helping her along her
journey. "A lot of my success in the last few years has come from the support of friends and
members of the community acting as a family for me," Wheelock said.
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All UAF photos by Todd Paris unless otherwise