Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Stokes, Stewart representing UConn on and off the court

A program would be fortunate to have one person in the running for honors like the Senior CLASS Award or Academic All-American honors.

UConn happens to have two such candidates.

Senior center Kiah Stokes is not only one of 10 women's basketball finalists for the Senior CLASS Award which recognizes success on the playing field, in the classroom and in the community, but she is leading the fan voting by nearly 10 percent ahead of the nearest competitor.

Stewart, a junior forward and reigning national player of the year, was named a second team Academic All-American earlier today.

"It is a cool accomplishment and it goes to show that not only is my focus on basketball but also I am trying to do as well as I can in the classroom," said Stewart, who has a 3.3 grade-point average in an individualized major titled sport in society.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma pointed out that UConn is the only Division I women's basketball program with more than one player to be named Academic All-American of the Year. While Stewart did not receive that honor, Rebecca Lobo, Jen Rizzotti and two-time winner Maya Moore have been bestowed with that honor.

“People talk about all these other programs were you can go and get a great education, and this, that and the other thing, and I don’t doubt any of that," Auriemma said. "The reality of the situation is we have had three kids be the Academic Student Scholar-Athlete of the year in the country. No other school since they started the award has had more than one. So I think that says something about, 1. The kids that we recruit, what we look for and the things we think are important, and how good our school is at giving these kids an opportunity to be that successful.”

“Can Stewie reach that level? I don’t know. I hope she does. I will be rooting for her. I hope she can.”

Stewart, like Lobo, Rizzotti and Moore brought a similar desire for excellence to their studies as they did to the basketball court.
"I think it is just competitive nature, you want to do as well as you can both on the court and
in the classroom and you want to be the best at whatever you compete at," Stewart said.

With GPAs 3.5 or better in the last two semesters, that number continues to rise as does her desire to use her time at UConn to make a difference.

"What I want am hoping to do is basically prepare myself so I can learn how to build a non-profit organization when I am done with college because I think giving back to your community is awesome," Stewart said. "Next year my senior year I plan on making a non-profit just on a smaller scale so that is probably going to be the hardest part when I have to do that."

Speaking of making a difference, Stokes is certainly doing her part.

UConn did not return to campus from New Orleans after the Tulane game until about 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday. That night she headed to Hartford to speak at a public hearing in front of legislators to address the impact of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposed budget cuts.

"When my advisor asked me to speak, I couldn't say no, it was an honor," Stokes said. "I am glad that they wanted me to talk because I don't just represent the team, I represent the athletic community and the student body. I want to be all of that. The cuts aren't really going to affect me because I am graduating but it is something that is going to impact future players, future students here and it
is something that appealed to me. One of my professors today, he thought was really nice of me. He knew that we got in at 4 in the morning and to do that Tuesday night, that is really crazy a lot of people want to just leave, forget about it and graduate. He was really proud of me and he knows that a lot of the students look up to me, they know I am not just a basketball player I want to help out in more ways."

So what was Stokes' message?

"I just want to tell them I was representing the honors program and the individualized major program," Stokes said. "I wanted to tell them that the funding for both of those programs is really important. The advisors are really flexible, they want everybody to succeed. It is a great thing for the individualized major because you can kind of pick the courses that apply to you. I picked  a lot of business and sport management (classes) because I wanted to do that. I told them that most athletes here are not going to go pro in their sport so you have to have a backup play. It is something I
hope they took away from that."

Auriemma said he was not surprised to hear of Stokes' move to speak in front of legislators nor was he stunned when he checked in with Ellen Tripp, UConn's Associate Athletic Director who is in charge of the Counseling Program for Intercollegiate Athletics, that each of his players who had early morning classes on Tuesday showed up for class.

"She is comfortable in that role," Auriemma said. "That comes natural to her, she is well spoken, she is intelligent, she cares about things more than just basketball and she cares about people. I think when somebody asked her 'would you do this for us?' I am sure there was no hesitation at all.

"She is the absolute epitome of what you would want in a student-athlete, in a kid representing your program. She has everything you want. She is a great human being, she is great teammates, she is a great friend to her friends, she works diligently in school and got a 4.0 (GPA). I don't know if you could ask one person to do more. If somebody said 'hey, Kiah Stokes is the face of your program' I would be like 'yeah, that's pretty good. She kind of represents who we are.'"

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Joe said...

what an amazing journey for Stokes over four years at UConn!

I hope she has an outstanding NCAA tournament and goes out a three-time winner (along with KML)!

11:55 AM 

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