Senior midfielder keeps his eye on the ball
Student-athlete: At some institutions that classification may be an oxymoron, but not at Temple University. Just ask Owl senior midfielder Steven Wacker. A product of Philadelphia’s Northeast Catholic High, the Temple men’s soccer team captain has not only been one of the main reasons for the Cherry and White’s turnaround on the soccer pitch; he has also been a standout student, most recently named to the Academic All-District II soccer team and Second Team Academic All-America.
“I feel in order to be a successful student-athlete you must have good time management skills,” Wacker explains. “You have to be able to manage your time between school, practice, games, lifting and away trips. Believe me, this is not an easy task.”
Wacker has managed it well, however. Despite having to now travel to the University’s Ambler campus for practice and matches, he has compiled a 3.89 cumulative grade-point average as a kinesiology major and was named an Academic All-Conference selection this year. Upon graduation he plans to further his studies in graduate school.
On the field, the 5-6 midfielder is no slouch. Having his best season offensively with two goals and four assists, the team leader was named a first-team All-Atlantic 10 selection. He also has helped the Owls post consecutive winning seasons and trips to the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament. The latter is a first-ever for the Temple program.
“It has been great — but most importantly, fun,” says Wacker on the team’s success. “I am the type of person that hates to lose, so my first two years here were not very enjoyable. Although I love to play the game, I also love to win. Therefore, this turn around has been exciting.”
Wacker’s academic success is shared by teammate Andy Watto, a senior defender who was named to the academic all-district second team. Senior goalkeeper Patrick Hannigan was an academic all-conference selection in 2003.
His highest academic honor, however, is the one he received at the University’s Breakfast of Champions last April. There, he earned a spot on the Trustees Honor Roll, which comprises the 10 student-athletes with the highest cumulative grade-point averages.
The brainchild of Director of Athletics Bill Bradshaw, the Breakfast of Champions has quickly become a mainstay of the Temple Athletic Department. Last year, more than 200 student-athletes were honored at the event for academic excellence.
“The Breakfast of Champions is the perfect way to celebrate as a community what is special about athletics at Temple University,” Bradshaw said.
Student-athletes at Temple consistently graduate at a rate that exceeds the University population as a whole. In recent NCAA graduation data released in late October, Temple graduates 64 percent of its student-athletes. That is 10 percent higher than the general student graduation rate (54 percent).
With a solid support system spearheaded by Bradshaw’s leadership and overseen by Director of Academic Support for Student-Athletes Walter Holliday, “student” will always come first at Temple in regard to athletics.
— Larry Dougherty