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It’s game on as these Yellow Jackets excel in academics, athletics

From the classroom to the locker room to the field, BW student-athletes are champions for success as Yellow Jacket grit and glory meld with academic ability to build confidence, teamwork and in-demand career skills.

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As the school year gets underway, another generation of BW student-athletes will carry forward the Yellow Jacket tradition of pride, integrity and accolades that include national championships, conference titles and top coaching awards.

Among those individuals who hold high the values of BW’s culture of champions are three student-athletes who have made their mark on and off the field. Individually, they represent what it means to have plenteous possibilities ahead of them to forge their goals into a successful college experience and future. Together, they showcase the extraordinary foundation of Yellow Jacket athletics and the meaningful impact it has on the students who participate in any of BW’s 28 sports.

On 'track' for success

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BW student-athlete Hope Murphy '24 is ready to go the distance, both figuratively and literally. Recently added to BW’s list of 129 Academic All-Americans, the lauded distance runner for women’s track and field and cross country combines athletic prowess with a near-perfect grade point average.

With accolades that include setting five BW records, qualifying seven times for national meets and being named an NCAA All-American twice in the 1500m and 800m, she boasts an exemplary list of Brown & Gold triumphs. But her towering feats don’t stop there. Murphy melded her entrepreneurial skills with her majors in marketing and hospitality and tourism management to launch her own business. She creates event decorations and designs using balloon garlands.

"BW helped me find a path and potential career I am passionate about," she said. "Hospitality and tourism management opened new doors, opportunities and connections. Class projects and campus programming have allowed me to explore my creativity and find aspects of event management that I enjoy. Marketing has done the same by giving me the space to connect my two majors and develop an interest in digital marketing.

"Our entrepreneur-focused resources on campus – LaunchNet and Smart Start – helped me to build confidence in my abilities and gain access to funding," the Mogadore, Ohio, resident went on to say.

"Being a D3 (Division 3) athlete has allowed me to be proud of what I do and take pride in how I represent BW. I like the culture and chemistry of the team and appreciate how the coaching staff cares about athletes," emphasized Murphy.

A wonderful World Series run

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It was all eyes on Kade Swisher '25 as BW made a historic title run to the NCAA College World Series this spring. The right-handed pitcher not only contributed on the mound to help the Yellow Jackets garner a 39-12 season record but also held batting opponents to only three runs in lifting BW to a 6-3 victory during its World Series run. And though the team came just short of the national title, it was a monumental year for BW baseball and Swisher, who was a sophomore at the time.

"Being a contributor on a team that finished top three in the nation is extremely special," remarked the Berea, Ohio, resident. "Athletics has enhanced my college experience. I gained a group of friends as soon as I stepped on campus. You spend so much time together, especially during the season, that you form a connection that is hard to find anywhere else.

"Confidence is everything, whether we’re talking about sports, academics or just everyday life. Confidence in sports often allows athletes to perform better. Confidence in the classroom allows students to participate more," remarked Swisher, who is a STEM Scholar and on the BW Dean’s List.

"Throughout the spring semester, every one of my professors would congratulate me on BW’s baseball success or wish me luck in our upcoming games. Baldwin Wallace professors truly care about their students," noted the applied mathematics major.

“We have phenomenal coaches that love what they do and have a passion for winning, not only for their own sport but for every other Yellow Jacket team. My dad, Todd Swisher '94, was a BW grad and a student-athlete. He currently coaches track here,” he said with YJ4L legacy pride.

Putting her game face on for challenges

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Alek Johnson '25 has big plans for her future. The aspiring biomedical engineer wants to help people improve their quality of life. BW is helping her fulfill that goal.

"I found out about BW from being recruited to be a member of the women’s basketball team. I immediately connected with the coaches. When I visited campus, the professors were personable, knowledgeable and focused on student success," she recalled.

"During my senior year of high school, I suffered a serious injury that caused me to miss my entire basketball season. I was attending school virtually due to a COVID shutdown. Basketball was my normalcy and peace during this time of uncertainty. Having it taken away was mentally challenging," she admitted.

"Once I understood my diagnosis and recovery, I put all my focus into physical therapy and rehab. In addition to my family’s support, coaches Harrer and Hartzler constantly checked on me. This gave me a taste of how BW coaches and professors care about the well-being of students," said the Pittsburgh resident.

Johnson went on to say that BW helped her gain confidence in pursuing a career in engineering. Though the rigorous major seemed daunting at times, the Dean’s List student says she took pride in her ability to overcome challenges and maintain a high grade point average.

Outside the classroom, she is gaining real-world experience through an interdisciplinary faculty-student research study on ACL injury. Findings from the study will be presented by Johnson and the research team at the Midwest American Society of Biomechanics Conference.

In addition to career preparation, Johnson credits BW with helping her achieve personal growth as well. “I was incredibly reserved and kept to myself in high school. Once I began college, I made the effort to meet and socialize with other people. Though I am still very much introverted, the BW community has made it easier for me to step outside of my comfort zone.

"I am very fortunate to be a part of a team that is not only successful in basketball (a team record of 22-6 for the 2022-23 season) but is comprised of young women who have become close friends. Outside of my team, I have met different students who are also driven to succeed and fully embrace all BW has to offer," she said with YJ4L pride.

Snapshot Look at Recent BW Athletic and Academic Accolades

One in four BW undergraduate students is a student-athlete. Here is a sampling of successes during the 2022-23 school year.

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