Striving to Excel
By Geoff Hassard
Two WPI basketball players achieved all-star status this year. Sports Information Director Hassard profiles Jim Naughton and Kim Landry, who have received numerous honors for their dedication to their sport and their team.
The All-American IrishmanJim Naughton came a long way to earn a degree at WPI. A native Irishman from Dublin, the senior mathematical sciences major has concluded that attending college here was the best decision he could have made.
Naughton came to the U.S. as an exchange student in 1991. As a senior at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, N.H., he hadn't even heard of WPI, but assistant men's basketball coach Gary Donahue, who was friends with Naughton's high school coach, had heard of the young man who played outstanding basketball for the Winnacunnet Warriors. "Coach Donahue was the first person I talked to from WPI," said Naughton. "My chemistry teacher was a WPI graduate and also was close to the family I was staying with. He to ld me he thought I would do well here."
Recruited by several colleges, Naughton narrowed his choices to WPI or Clark University. "Clark's program was broken down into a five-year, combined humanities and engineering degree," Naughton explained. "You spend three years studying humanities and the n begin your engineering work. I would most likely have spent my last two years at WPI, taking courses through the Colleges of Worcester Consortium. It made more sense in the long run to go to WPI and complete my education in four years."
Naughton had some apprehension about coming to WPI. "I was worried about being able to handle the academic workload. My formal education was strong, but not well rounded." Naughton's fears proved to be unfounded. He made the most of his drive and motivati on to excel and his honors and accolades have put him where not too many students have been.
Naughton received As in almost every course. For the past two years he has been recognized as WPI's ECAC Robbins Scholar for his academic and athletic accomplishments; he was the top-ranked student in his junior class, when he won the Two Towers Prize for academic competence, campus leadership, course work and special work in research and projects; and he received the Richard V. Olson Award in his sophomore year for his performance in basic mathematics courses. He capped his WPI career recently when he wa s selected a GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-American after being named to the First District Team and the First National Team in Division III basketball.
"Naughton will leave WPI as probably the best all-around player the school has ever had," says Sports Information Director Geoff Hassard. "Historically, we have had had scorers, defenders and rebounders, but Jim has been outstanding at all these phases of the game." Naughton finished his career with 1,543 points (second all time for the men), is the men's all-time leading rebounder with 891, and is the all-time leader in free throws made (486) and attempted (642). He had 36 double-doubles and a streak of double figures in an amazing 55 consecutive games - a streak that ended only because his WPI career is over. For his performance during the 1995-96 season, he was selected Constitution Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
"In my 27-year association with WPI basketball, I regard Jim as the epitome of the student-athlete," says Kaufman. "He is everything a coach could want and more - a leader in the classroom and on the court. His selection as an Academic All-American symbo lizes his high level of commitment to excelling at whatever he does. He is the most complete player and the best student that I have ever recruited or coached at WPI."
As Naughton begins his professional career at John Hancock in Boston, he looks back at his decision to come to WPI. "I am happy with what I've accomplished here. I have no regrets and I feel that I definitely made the right choice."
Living up to the highest standardsThe women's basketball team had its best season ever this winter. A major reason for the team's success was the play of junior forward Kim Landry, who helped lead the Engineers to a New England Women's 8 Conference Championship and into the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Landry had a career-best season in which she scored 456 points and grabbed 248 rebounds. She became the eighth woman, and only the fourth junior, in WPI history to surpass 1,000 points. She was elected to the NEW 8 All-Conference Team for the second conse cutive year; was a First Team All-New England selection; the MVP in the Worcester City Tip-Off Tournament, in which WPI defeated crosstown rival Clark University; and was named to the Williams College Invitational All-Tournament Team - a contest that WPI also won; and set a new women's single-game scoring record when she scored 33 points in a come-from-behind victory over Salve Regina.
Landry topped off the season with a Kodak All-America honorable mention. "It was such an honor," she said.
"I felt like my performance trailed off after the new year. When Coach called me late at night to tell me, at first I didn't believe her. I called her back the next day to make sure."
"Kim obviously had a great year for us," says head coach Christa Champion. "There may have been times she felt she was not performing up to par, but that was only because she set such high standards for herself. Her performance, and her contribution to ou r team's success, speak for themselves. The Kodak recognition is simply the icing on the cake - it shows that in the coaches' eyes, Kim was up to the challenge of meeting her own high standards."
Landry, a physics major, approaches her studies with the same work ethic that has brought her atheletic success. Choosing Title IX as the topic for her Humanities Sufficiency, she reviewed many lawsuits that female athletes have brought against their colleges to determine how far female athletes have come, and if the regulations that mandate equal access to sports for women have been fully accepted. She concluded that the reluctance of the "revenue-producing sports" to share the wealth has prevented Title IX from full implementation.
For their Interactive Qualifying Project, Landry and two other WPI students are developing and planning to implement a hands-on space and space-exploration curriculum. She will study for a master's degree in education after she completes her WPI degree an d plans to spend her career in the classroom teaching physics..
Does being named an All-American mean Landry has arrived? "It will make me work harder to achieve more," she says. "I don't want to be complacent because I feel that our team can accomplish just as much, if not more, next year. We will be losing some key seniors, but that just means there will be opportunities for others to step in and step up."
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