January 3, 2011
The lights of Hulman Center. The sound of basketballs hitting the wooden floor. The swish of the basketball net as yet another free throw is made by senior women's basketball player Kelsie Cooley.
For this student-athlete, juggling basketball practices and games with classes and homework has been difficult, but she has excelled at both, managing to earn a 4.0 grade point average in her time at Indiana State University.
"It is just because I kept my priorities, kept perspective," Cooley said. "I am here to play basketball and to get an education. Whatever falls in there falls below those two things."
The senior forward from Beavercreek, Ohio, is a double major in management and business administration. She said that at times, life has been pretty crazy.
"It has been nuts. My classes are really hard," she said.
Professors expect more out of upper-level students, including high-quality work on group projects, she said.
On average, Cooley has two classes per day, in addition to required time in the weight room early in the morning and basketball practice later in the day. With her hectic schedule, she usually grabs lunch on the go between classes.
After classes, she goes to basketball practice, which lasts about two and a half hours. Then after practice, she spends about 15 minutes in waist-deep, 50-degree water.
"Every single day we take an ice bath," she said. "It's cold, but you get used to it because you have done it so much. It helps you recover so you are ready for the next day's practice."
After the ice bath and dinner, Cooley finally has time to study and work on homework. And those are days without basketball games.
Home basketball games have special meaning for Cooley because her parents attend each one. She credits them for her motivation to excel both on and off the court.
"Over the years, I've watched their work ethic and perseverance, and I think that is what drives me as a student-athlete," Cooley said.
In addition to classes and practice, Cooley is president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. In this role, Cooley serves as a liaison between student-athletes and the athletic department at Indiana State. She runs meetings every other week for SAAC, which also focuses heavily on community service.
Together with other organizations, SAAC recently sponsored Jam the Bus, a food drive to fill an entire Sycamore bus with non-perishable food items. The donated items were given to the Catholic Charities of Terre Haute.
Cooley occasionally takes time out of her busy schedule to nap or watch television.
"I love ‘Jersey Shore' and ‘Teen Mom,'" she said.
Cooley is looking forward to her final basketball season as an Indiana State Sycamore.
"It's weird. It's surreal. It seems like these four years have gone by so fast," she said. "It feels like I was just a senior in high school getting ready to go to college, and now I am getting ready to go to grad school."
Being the only senior on the women's basketball team does not bother her.
"Even though I'm the only senior, I feel like every single person on the team is a leader, which takes a lot off of me," she said. "It makes it easier because I can lean on my teammates and we can push each other."
Although Cooley said college athletes are "bigger, stronger, faster," she was able to make the transition from high school to college with relative ease.
"Even though you're away from your family, the team is your family," she said. "Before I came to college, I did not understand the team concept. My teammates are my best friends."
While competing at ISU, Cooley has accumulated many accomplishments, including the 2010 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Good Neighbor Award and the MVC Commissioner's Academic Excellence Award for the 2008-2009 academic year. She was named to the MVC Scholar-Athlete Second Team in 2010 and to the MVC Honor Roll for the academic years of 2007-2008 and 2008-2009.
With no desire to be a professional basketball player, Cooley is preparing to attend law school to one day work in labor relations. Though it will be exciting to move on into the next phase of her life, Cooley will miss a few aspects of Indiana State.
"I will miss my teammates and the atmosphere," she said. "Being a part of a team, a part of something bigger than yourself, that's the biggest thing."
Photos: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/photos/1066358324_Higpk-L.jpg - Kelsie Cooley balances basketball and class work at Indiana State and is consistently recognized by the Missouri Valley Conference. (ISU/Kara Berchem)
http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/photos/1074936808_r4Wcw-L.jpg - Indiana State University basketball player Kelsie Cooley excels on the court and in the classroom and has posted a 4.0 grade point average during her time at ISU. (ISU/Kara Berchem)
Writer: Lana Schrock, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Kelsie Cooley, a senior on the ISU women's basketball team, has excelled both on the court and off, earning a 4.0 grade point average in her time at Indiana State.