By Berry Aldridge, Staff Writer
Armstrong Atlantic State University recently hosted a Student Awards Convocation ceremony on April 22, which recognized outstanding achievement for the 2013-2014 school year.
Among the many prestigious honors awarded, only the President’s Cup pertained specifically to Armstrong’s student-athletes.
The President’s Cup recognizes the male and female Scholar Athlete of the Year, as chosen by school President, Linda Bleiken. This award is among the most prominent achievements here at Armstrong because it exemplifies the focus, determination, and hard work, both on the field and in the classroom, that the school, athletic department, and coaches wish to instill into all of the student-athletes that pass through the programs.
The female recipient this year is basketball senior Tyler Carlson. Carlson excelled academically, posting a career 3.82 GPA, and athletically, leading the lady Pirates basketball team to the Sweet 16, the best finish in school history. Tyler is a history major and two-year starter for the Pirates.
She has played every single game Armstrong has played since joining the program from Mars Hill in 2012, starting all but seven of those. This year she averaged 11.9 points and 8.1 assists per game.
“It is an honor to win the President’s Cup,” Carlson said. “I mean knowing how much our president, the athletic department, our coaches, and my teammates respect me is one of the greatest feelings in the world. This award is one I will never forget.”
Tyler says she frequents the school’s library for quiet study time where she listens to instrumentals by Explosions in the Sky to keep her focused. She says when she isn’t studying or practicing she is most likely sleeping, especially during the basketball season when she says she is, “like a grandma, in bed by ten.”
While some might prefer the devil-may-care college mentality, Tyler offers a much more practical approach.
“Make sure you manage your time well and do not get caught up in with the typical college life,” she said. “There are times to have fun but there are also times to focus on your academics and sport and it is important to have your priorities in order.”
The male recipient of the President’s Cup is baseball senior Clayton Miller. He is a rehab-sciences major and four-year starter for the Pirates, and boasts an impressive 3.7 total GPA over his four years here, including a perfect 4.0 over his junior and senior years. Those close to Miller know that if he isn’t in class or at the field, he can, like Tyler, be found in the school’s library, often studying early in the morning or late at night.
When asked how he has managed to juggle school and baseball so seamlessly, Miller said, “The premise to my academic success is when I began to realize that school is uncannily similar to athletics: it is competitive. It takes extreme measures of dedication and determination to be successful.”
Miller also mentioned that morning coffee deserves some of the credit. He has not only excelled in the classroom this year, but also on the field. He is the reigning First-Team All-Peach Belt Conference catcher and his .352 batting average is currently second on the team. He is a defensive stalwart and obvious leader on and off the field.
“The only advice I have (to younger student-athletes) would be to find that inner spark that interests them,” says Miller, “Do not be discouraged or overwhelmed with college coursework. Simply take the time to research what strikes your interests and find a major that follows that path. As cliché as this may sound, hard work really does pay off.”
These two outstanding student-athletes have exceeded the high standards set forth by this university and raised the bar even higher for those to follow. They are excellent students, athletes, and leaders, and they will both be sorely missed from the halls, field, and court of Armstrong.