EMU's Abigail Shelly (Collinsville, Miss./West Lauderdale) has earned one final award, being named to the District 5 Academic All-District Team by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
The multi-sport star earned the honor in the women's cross country/track & field category, recognizing her work both in the athletic and academic spheres at Eastern Mennonite University.
"I find this award a bit ironic in a way, as I am being awarded for achieving in the environment that was curated and nurtured for me by professors, student life staff, and coaches," Shelly said. "EMU provided a ground where I could achieve academically as well as athletically without forcing me to compartmentalize either. As an athlete, expectations in the classroom were not lessened, but I did find that my professors were equally interested in my life outside of the classroom, which significantly impacted my engagement. As I begin my position as a teacher at Harrisonburg High School, I hope to use the examples set before me by coaches, professors, and mentors in order to build holistic relationships with my own students. As I will be coaching as well, I hope to be a role model to my own athletes on translating the drive on the field and in the course to a greater work ethic that impacts other areas of one's life."
Shelly earned a 3.97 GPA as a Liberal Arts major, focusing on Education K-12. She was the cross country team's top runner as a senior, running her first sub-24-minute 6k at the ODAC Championships, her final collegiate race. Shelly finished in second place in two of her five races last fall and earned ODAC Runner of the Week honors once.
Additionally, she stood out on the Royals' inaugural triathlon team, finishing 13th at the National Championships.
A regular on the ODAC All-Academic Team and EMU Dean's List, Shelly was also busy on campus, serving as the Senior Class Secretary and an SGA Senator. She worked as a Community Advisor with EMU's Residence Life as well as a worship team leader.
Coach Bob Hepler explained that Shelly displayed her character in how she learned the sport of triathlon before her final collegiate year.
"Abigail Shelly was not a swimmer six months before her first triathlon. Abigail Shelly did not cycle at all until six months before her first triathlon. Abigail Shelly worked amazingly hard to become a strong swimmer and cyclist. Abigail Shelly went to Nationals and placed 13th in her fourth triathlon ever. That's impossible. Abigail Shelly does the impossible. Now she's about to begin her first year as a teacher. She will vastly exceed expectations because she does the impossible."
The Academic All-District team was voted on by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Shelly is now eligible for CoSIDA's Academic All-America voting.
The criteria for the All-District program states that a player must be of sophomore academic standing, be a starter or important reserve and claim a GPA of at least 3.30 on a 4.0 scale. Eastern Mennonite is a member of District 5, which includes players from NCAA D-III institutions in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Shelly was one of just three women from the Old Dominion Athletic Conference honored on the 12-woman team from District 5.