On Top of Their Games
Quintessential student-athletes Brett Dickson '06 and Megan Holmes '05 are a triple threat: they excel in team sports, in the classroom, and in life.
In the second-round NCAA tournament game last year against Western Connecticut State University, Brett Dickson '06 was suddenly thrust into a pressure moment. With about six seconds left, WCSU tied the game, leaving WPI players in a daze, recalls Coach Chris Bartley. But Dickson knew his coach didn't want to call a timeout. So he quickly in-bounded the ball to the team's top scorer, who made the winning basket. "He's the type of player who understands what is going on in a game so well that he really is the extension of the coach on the floor," says Bartley. "He's always thinking about the next play. And, he's almost always right."
This New Hampshire native and the son of a college basketball coach plays point guard and has been captain of the WPI team since his sophomore year. As a member of Bartley's first recruiting class, he helped the team set a university record last year for regular season wins, capture the NEWMAC regular season and tournament titles, and advance to the NCAA Division III championships for the first time in 20 years, going as far as the Sweet 16. This year, the team again advanced to the championships, after they won the NEWMAC tournament in February.
Dickson's leadership abilities extend beyond the court; he is active in Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Massachusetts. "You develop a great relationship with the kids," Dickson says. "I enjoy going every week."
As of February, the electrical and computer engineering student boasted a 3.8 GPA. "His ability to balance basketball, academics, and community activities, and his ability to manage the other kids on the team, as well as himself, is remarkable," says Bartley.
On the soccer field, Megan Holmes '05, an Idahoan, was a standout on a team that boasted winning seasons in three of her four years. She scored 13 goals and made 33 assists during her career; last year, as a senior, she was second-team All-New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference.
Holmes graduated with high distinction with a degree in biomedical engineering last year. As an undergraduate, she received top awards—the Marietta E. Anderson Award and the Ellen Knott Award—in recognition of her academic excellence, her athletic prowess, and her significant community involvement through the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega.
Following her impressive career on and off the soccer field, Holmes, now a biomedical engineering graduate student, found time to join the women's field hockey team as a center forward this winter. She even scored the first goal of the season, making the transition to another sport look easy, says Coach Johanna DiCarlo.
"She's a great example for the underclassmen," DiCarlo says. "She works hard at practices. She has a positive attitude. She's one of those rare student-athletes you get only every four or five years."
It's that combination of success in sports and academics, as well as their leadership qualities, that make Holmes and Dickson stand out on a campus where more than half of the student body is active in varsity sports, club sports, or intramurals.
"They are charismatic," says Dana Harmon, director of physical education, recreation, and athletics. "People are drawn to them because of their leadership skills."
But Holmes and Dickson agree the path of a student-athlete isn't always easy.
Dickson's time of turmoil came during his freshman year. He started on a basketball team that struggled all year due to inexperience. And he was intimidated by his academic workload. But he gradually adjusted to college life and learned to excel.
"The biggest thing to concentrate on is time management," he says. "I don't sit around and watch TV or play video games. I'm usually working out for athletics or studying for a test. I've done it all my life, athletically."
Holmes' stress began to take its toll during her junior year. But with friends' encouragement, she recognized the importance of prioritizing. She eased up on some of the off-season training. She cut back on work hours and became more selective about volunteering with her fraternity.
"In hindsight," Holmes says, "I realize how many opportunities I've had and the amazing people I've met. I wouldn't change my undergraduate experience for the world."firstname.lastname@example.org
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Last modified: Jun 19, 2006, 12:01 EDT