Kelly Newton and the University of Maine field hockey team were in Boston for a weekend game.
Newton’s parents had traveled across the continent, from their home in Vancouver, British Columbia, to see her.
“She couldn’t even visit with her family when they were at the hotel,” recounted UMaine field hockey coach Josette Babineau. “It was such a busy academic weekend that she had to prepare.”
Such are the kinds of sacrifices made by truly committed student-athletes. In 2011, the efforts of Newton and Andrew Rogers stood out at the University of Maine.
Field hockey star Newton and men’s basketball player Rogers have been honored as the recipients of the 2012 “M” Club Dean Smith Awards.
The award, named for former UMaine basketball star and team captain Dean Smith, is given annually to the student-athletes demonstrating outstanding academic and athletic achievement in addition to citizenship and community service.
Rogers and Newton were honored Sunday along with 241 other UMaine student-athletes for their success in the classroom during ceremonies on campus. Among those, 175 achieved UMaine Scholar-Athlete status by earning a 3.0 or better grade point average either during 2011 or on a cumulative basis.
Newton, a senior dean’s list student in nursing, holds seven UMaine field hockey scoring records. They include career points (163), goals (57) and assists (49); season points (51) and assists (25); and single-game marks for points (10) and assists (3).
Babineau marveled at the kind of commitment Newton has demonstrated during her career, especially handling the rigors of the nursing curriculum.
“Kelly would be on the run the whole time,” Babineau said. “She’d come into practice having run from her last class to the locker room and got dressed, then she ran out the minute practice was over because there was something to go to.”
It wasn’t uncommon on a road trip to find Newton in a hotel lobby late at night accessing the Internet to get her schoolwork done. It always came first.
Newton, a two-time, third-team All-American, was named the America East Offensive Player of the Year in 2010. She also appeared in TV commercials to benefit the Partnership for a Tobacco Free Maine and participated in other community events.
Rogers has been a strong contributor on the court for the Black Bears while demonstrating consistency in the classroom.
The senior point guard from Philadelphia has been a stabilizing force on the hardwood. He has racked up 260 career assists and ranks fourth in America East this season, averaging 4.0 assists per game.
The 5-foot-9 Rogers leads the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.2, which is fifth in all of Division I this winter.
“He’s smart, he obviously works extremely hard and he’s very conscientious about his studies,” said UMaine coach Ted Woodward. “He has been a great leader on our team and throughout the university and the entire community.”
Rogers, who is studying kinesiology and physical education with a concentration in teaching and coaching, has earned a 4.0 GPA in four of his seven semesters and has been close in the others, according to Woodward.
Rogers was selected for the Senior Skulls honor society, which includes 12 senior male students at UMaine who exhibit strong moral character, outstanding school spirit, leadership, strong academic achievement, and the ability to serve as role models for underclassmen.
He is a two-time America East All-Academic choice, of which only five are chosen each season in basketball.
“He’s the ultimate student-athlete and he’s done it since he’s been here,” Woodward said. “He’s put together a great career as a result and he’s been able to excel in every single area that he’s been a part of.”
UMaine athletics also announced its fifth annual “Team Maine,” which includes the student-athletes who earned the highest GPA in each sport during 2011.
Those winners were — baseball: Pat Thibodeau, KPE (exercise science); basketball, men: Rogers; women: Samantha Wheeler, psychology; cross country, men: Kelton Cullenberg, KPE (exercise science); women: Krislyn Hyatt, KPE (exercise science), and Rachel Wilkinson, food science and human nutrition; football: Roosevelt Boone, human development (master’s program); ice hockey, men: Dan Sullivan, finance and management; women: Ashley Norum, biology.
Also, swimming, men: Robert Bickford, biochemistry; women: Carmen Linden, sociology; field hockey: Alexa Binnendijk, mass communication; softball: Ashley Kelley, biology; women’s soccer: Meaghan Bradica, KPE (exercise science); track and field, men: Cullenberg; women: Katy Grime, civil engineering, and Kathryn Porter, bioengineering; cheering: Alex St. Pierre, communication sciences and disorders/child development.