Ten seniors were honored during halftime of the football game against St. Lawrence University on Saturday, Sept 29. They received the Lysle “Spike” Garnish Scholar-Athlete award in honor of Lysle “Spike” Garnish, a coach and mentor to UR student athletes from 1930 to 1948.
The 10 student athletes — Adam Bossert, Claire Crowther, Andres Duany, Beni Fischer, Shelby Hall, Bridget Lang, Jon Menke, Laura Norton, Jakob Seidlit and Jackie Walker — represented nine sports and hailed from seven states and three countries.
“Head coaches were invited to nominate students from their team following [their] junior year based upon academic and athletic achievement,” Associate Director of Athletics and Recreation Terry Gurnett, who is a member of the selection committee, said.
“We have had this process in place for most of the last 12 years and have been able to recognize up to 10 students each year.”
A balance between schoolwork and sports is a prerequisite to becoming a Garnish Scholar.
“There are no strict criteria for selection, although the Committee has set a 3.2 cumulative GPA as a minimum cut-off to be nominated,” Gurnett said.
A hallmark of being nominated as a Garnish scholar is high scholastic achievement and athletic ability.
“I take a lot of pride in having an even balance between athletics and academics,” Garnish Scholar Jonathan Menke said. “I didn’t want to put all my effort into one aspect just to have the other side of me suffer. I work as hard as I can in both areas.”
Menke is a mathematics and financial economics major from Highland Park, Ill. He was named the Liberty League Pitcher of the Year as a junior and helped UR reach the league playoffs. In his freshman season, he helped the Yellowjackets win the regular season Liberty League title and attain a national ranking, as well as win the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship in Florida.
Most athletes plan on continuing their sport after college.
“I definitely want to continue to play baseball in some form after graduation,” Menke said. “My main goal right now is to try and play professionally. I feel I owe it to myself to at least try to make it professionally because I’ve been playing baseball for so long and have had continued success.”
Others intend to pursue their sport but less competitively.
“I plan to continue swimming in the future,” Garnish Scholar Adam Bossert said. “I miss the pool when I’m out of it. Whether for working out, relieving stress or maybe even coaching, I expect that swimming will remain with me for a long time.”
Bossert is a microbiology major and chemistry minor from Ambler, Pa. He was selected as the Liberty League men’s swimmer of the year as a junior, helping UR win the team championship that year. He has two top 10 times and was named to the Liberty League and UAA All-Academic Teams.
Similarly, Jakob Seidlitz, a Garnish Scholar and brain and cognitive sciences (BCS) major from Washington, D.C., plans to play after college as well.
“After this year, I definitely want to keep playing soccer recreationally, and I plan on trying out this December to represent the U.S. in the Maccabi games next summer,” Seidlitz said.
Seidlitz earned All-UAA honors last season and was named to the UAA All-Academic Team. The Yellowjackets were ranked nationally in each of his four seasons and they reached the NCAA Division III playoffs in 2009 and 2010 partly due to his work on the back line.
Regardless of their future athletic endeavors, most Scholars have a professional backup or main goal in mind, even those intending to play professionally.
“Aside from athletics, my other future track would lead me into the financial world,” Menke said. “I’ve enjoyed my finance classes the most and there are many different fields that interest me, such as financial advising or financial analysis.”
He also said he intends to pursue professional baseball before settling into a career in finance.
Others seek to pursue their careers with sports as a side activity.
“As an undergraduate, I have always planned on attending medical school after graduation,” Bossert said. “During the two years I will have between my UR graduation and enrollment in medical school, I hope to have a research or clinical job that will help prepare me for becoming a physician.”
Seidlitz said he plans to apply for teaching fellowships for a gap year, as well as some BCS-related research positions, before applying to graduate school.
“I am ready to focus my attention on my professional career, which will definitely consist of endeavors related to public policy, philosophy and science,” he said.
No matter their future plans, most Garnish Scholars look fondly on their experience at UR.
“[UR] allowed me to explore and refine my interests that I carried form high school and picked up along the way, both athletically and academically, and I am grateful to have had a fulfilling and successful experience,” Seidlitz said.
“Looking back on the past few years, I have made life-long friends by being part of this team,” Menke said. “We are a family and I know I have 50 guys I can call on at any time to help me out with whatever I need.”
“When I look back at my time spent at UR, most of my best moments have been with the team,” he said. “I feel honored to win this award and to be represented with the other nine student-athletes — it motivates me to continue chasing my ambitions and developing my passions.”
Dwulit is a member of the class of 2016.