June 4, 2005
For Emily Vail the number "13" was far from unlucky and finishing second was an unexpected surprise not a disappointment.
Vail, a member of the University of Iowa's rowing team who received her bachelor's degree in exercise science last month, was one of 13 student-athletes in the Big Ten Conference to earn cumulative grade point average of 4.0 or better And for Vail that was good enough to rank her second among her graduating class.
"It came as a surprise. I didn't expect it by any means," said Vail, a three-time member of the Big Ten's all-Academic team who will likely pursue a career in medicine after doing research this summer at the University of California at San Diego.
Vail's achievement didn't come as a surprise to the UI's head rowing coach, Mandi Kowal.
"Emily is pretty intense but not in a bad way. She does things with a bounce to her. She's a very driven, highly-motivated individual," said Kowal.
During her college tenure, Vail was able to be a varsity rower, juggle the worries of college life, and achieve the second highest grade point average among her class at the UI. How did she do it?
"Athletics and academics complement each other very well", she said. "The coaches were always telling us to perform at our best ability, so I would do my best whether I was at the boathouse or the library."
Kowal said that academics have always been and always will be a priority in the rowing program.
"Academics have always been an emphasis. It can be hard to balance all of these things, but we taught her [Emily] that with patience, it can be done."
"I think they definitely emphasized the importance of academics," Vail said of the UI coaching staff.
Kowal said many services offered to student-athletes at the UI to help them achieve at the highest levels academically. Some of these include tutors, team study sessions, laptop computers which are allowed to be taken on road trips, and most importantly, the new Gerdin Academic Learning Center, the UI's award-winning building that houses a team of staff whose exclusively responsibility is to provide assistance and guidance to student-athletes at the UI.
"The University of Iowa provides services to provide its student-athletes every opportunity to be as successful academically as it does to help them achieve athletically. Ultimately, it is up to the student-athlete take full advantage of the resources available to them," said Kowal.
Obviously, Emily Vail to full advantage of those opportunities. The numbers "13" and "2" are clear evidence of that fact.