By Pat McDonnell
Erick Streelman tackles secondary education examinations, runs pass patterns and fields ground balls with uncommon steadiness. In an unreliable world, he’s a rock of personal resolve among student-athletes, whether in Mackay Stadium, Peccole Park or Nevada’s William Raggio College of Education Building.
The College Sports Information Directors of America in December recognized the 6-foot-5-inch, 240-pound senior tight end for his steadfast qualities on the field and in the classroom. The organization selected Streelman to the Verizon Academic All-American Team (the second Pack football player to be named an Academic All-American, following punter David Heppe in 1982).
“The academics wasn’t really a question for me,” says Streelman, who carries a nearly perfect 3.98 grade-point average as a fourth-year secondary education major. “It was how I would advance my performance on the field. The (award) standards are that you have to be a starter (or significant reserve), and they compare that to your grade-point average and how much effect you had in those games. So there is a lot that goes into it.”
The fourth leading receiver on the Wolf Pack proved to be a reliable target last season for quarterback Zach Threadgill. Also the team’s long snapper, Streelman played in all of the season’s 12 games, had 30 catches for 345 yards and scored three touchdowns.
In baseball, he has lettered twice for the Pack. This spring, he opened the season as the starting first baseman.
He needs 12 credits following Spring Semester to earn his bachelor’s degree in education. Streelman expects to graduate in December, eyeing a potential career as a high school social studies or math teacher.
His advice for prospective student-athletes?
“It’s all about structuring your time,” the product of Valley Christian High School in Bellflower, Calif., says. “You’re figuring out when you want to study because your practice schedule is set. You have the hours when you have to be in the weight room, the hours when you have to be on the field. I learned my habits in junior high and high school, and then just brought them to college with me.”
A possible NFL draft pick, Streelman participated in the league combine for top prospects in February.
“The draft’s in April (April 26 and 27),” he says. “I’m going to wait and see what happens. Right now I’m going to play baseball, and if an unbelievable opportunity comes up that I can’t pass up, then I’ll take that.”
By Brandon Stewart
It is not always comfortable for beginners to challenge veterans, yet one University of Nevada senior — and Olympic hopeful — strives for just that opportunity.
“I’ve always liked being an underdog, being a beginner, to challenge people that are really experienced,” says senior Wolf Pack distance runner and nordic skier Emma Garrard.
Curt Kraft, head track and field coach, reiterates the point.
“She’s looking for new avenues, looking for new doors, and she’s pulling them open,” Kraft says. “If it’s not there, she shuts it and moves on to the next one.”
Garrard is a tri-sport student-athlete who juggles running for the cross country and track teams as well as nordic skiing for the ski team. She has twice earned All-Western Athletic Conference status in cross country running, and has set the school record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. In addition she has been an NCAA qualifier in nordic ski events. And, to top it all off, she is an Academic All-American.
“I just like doing a lot of different things and having different experiences,” Garrard says. “I don’t really want to miss out on an opportunity. I’d regret it if I just did one sport.”
Kim Mustonen, head nordic ski coach, says Garrard’s enthusiasm has helped her to become a better athlete.
“She was very motivated last season and she improved a lot,” Mustonen says. “She will most likely qualify for the national championships and be one of our really important leaders.”
Kraft emphasizes that Garrard excels in areas that cannot be taught.
“She’s a competitor,” Kraft says. “That’s one thing you can’t coach. You can preach it, you can remind them of it, but when it comes time for them to get on the track — or get on the slopes, for that matter — you can’t coach that. It’s either in you or it’s not.”
Kraft believes Garrard’s character offers her limitless opportunities — in athletics and in life.
“She hates to get beat — she’s a winner in all aspects of her life,” Kraft says. “She’s an excellent student, she’s an excellent person with a ton of character, a ton of desire, and a lot of passion. If you had a dozen of her, you could move a building.”
The running and skiing phenom was born in the United Kingdom and has lived across the globe in places varying from Indonesia to Alaska. Attending Robert Service High School in Alaska, she lettered in cross country, soccer, skiing and track. She was also named MVP for cross country in 1998 and 1999. Interestingly, though, high school was the time she first picked up Nordic skiing. By contrast, most of Nevada’s ski team began their nordic careers at age 6 or 7.
Garrard, who skied for England in the World University Games held in Italy in January, came to the university through the recruiting efforts of the ski team. Only later did she find a niche with the Pack’s running programs.
“I tried out for running (sophomore year) and ended up being the number one runner on the team, so it was kind of a surprise,” Garrard says. “I was just expecting to make the team.”
Away from the slopes and track, Garrard also tends to make an impression.
“She makes people smile,” Mustonen says of the art major.
Adds Kraft: “She inspires girls just with her work ethic and by her actions.”
Even with her success Garrard admits that the future is still a mystery to her. The only sure thing is that it will involve new challenges — very possibly the biathlon, which combines nordic skiing and riflery. The sport is an Olympic event, and Nevada actually has a strong history in it. Wolf Pack skier Glenn Jobe was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Biathlon Team.
“My plans change every week,” she says. “I might take on skiing and do more races in Europe. I might start doing biathlon. I might go to grad school. It’s all really up in the air.”
Although he was inducted into the Wolf Pack Hall of Fame earlier in the fall, it was obvious that former nordic skiing standout Glenn Jobe was still on cloud nine when he visited campus in December. Jobe, a member of the 1980 Olympic team in biathlon, was all smiles upon receiving a special award from the Wolf Pack ski team’s boosters, including former coaches Chelton Leonard and Mark Magney.
“It’s a great feeling when you’re remembered by your university like this,” says Jobe, the sixth Wolf Pack skier inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Nominations for the 2003 Wolf Pack Hall of Fame are now being taken.
If you know of a Nevada athlete who won significant postseason honors (All-American
or All-Conference), was a conference champion, record holder, world class competitor,
NCAA or conference statistical leader, or who made a significant contribution to Wolf
Pack athletics, contact Dick Trachok, athletic director emeritus and chairperson of
the Wolf Pack Hall of Fame selection committee at (775) 784-6900 or send nominations
to University of Nevada, Department of Athletics, Legacy Hall/264, Reno, NV 89557, Attention:
— John Trent