Feature Stories

Division I All-Academic Team

Pictured (left to right): Crowe, Baumlin, and O’Dwyer

Three players from the women’s basketball team were named to the N.C.A.A. Division I Independent All-Academic team.

The three student-athletes, Aine O’Dwyer, Ali Baumlin and Kelly Crowe, were selected for the 2006-07 women’s team based on their academic and athletic accomplishments.

To make the All-Academic team, players must have minimum grade point averages (GPA) of 3.2. They must at least be sophomores and either start for their teams or play as reserves. Players were nominated by their colleges and chosen by sports information directors from the N.C.A.A. Independent Conference.

"Our team works hard, both on and off the court," said Aine O’Dwyer, a forward for the NJIT Highlanders. "And that three of us made the All-Academic team is a real accomplishment.

"O’Dwyer, who grew up in Ireland but lives in the Highlands, is a senior majoring in civil engineering. She has a GPA of 3.6. Balancing athletics and academics was never a problem for her. "I’ve played sports for as long as I can remember," she says, "so I’m used to balancing both."

The Highlanders were upgraded this season to Division I play – a move that O’Dwyer supports.

"Playing Division I has been tough," she says, "but we’ve all improved our play by competing against better athletes. Going Division I has also been good for the university, which gets better athletes, more recognition and a heightened sense of community."

Ali Baumlin, a forward for the Highlanders from Monroe Township, was also named to the All-Academic team. She is a sophomore majoring in management with a 3.8 GPA.

Baumlin is motivated by the thrill of a challenge.

"I’m competitive with myself and others," she says, "a quality I get from my father. I’m also lucky to have a photographic memory that let’s me pick ideas and concepts up quickly."

Lately Baumlin’s been picking up a lot of bruises, too.

"The Division I players are so much bigger and stronger," she says. "After games I’ve been using a lot of ice bags."

But the higher level of play has also broadened her horizons. Over winter break, the team traveled to Texas to play Texas A&M and Texas Pan American. And this week they travel to play South Dakota State and North Dakota State.

"Not many people can say they’ve traveled across the country playing Division I ball," says Baumlin. "I wouldn’t trade that for anything."

Kelly Crowe, the third player named to the team, is the definitive scholar athlete. She is the university’s all-time leading scorer in women’s basketball and her major is one of NJIT’s most rigorous: math. Crowe, of Wayne, Pa., also has a concentration in biology and a GPA of 3.5. And like Baumlin, she too welcomes a challenge.

"Math is challenging but I’ve always loved numbers," she says. "There’s no almost right answer in math, which I like."

When Crowe tells people she’s a math major, they often cast her quizzical looks. She knows what they are thinking: "‘Math, what are you crazy?’ is the comment I usually get," she says.

She once gave an oral presentation explaining why so few women in college major in math. Sometimes elementary teachers unwittingly favor boys and thus discourage girls from math, she says. But not her. Crowe always had the confidence to compete against the boys and study what she wanted.

"I’ve played sports my whole life and that gave me confidence in athletics and academics," she says. "Plus I grew up competing against my older brother. I am always up for a challenge."

(By Robert Florida, University Web Services)