THE KEENE STATE COLLEGE MAGAZINE FOR ALUMNI AND FRIENDS VOLUME XVIII NUMBER 3 Spring 2003
  
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Student Spotlight - Spring 2003 Student Spotlight

Headfirst: Katie Avener

Photo by Vaughn Winchell @ Insight Studio.You can't help noticing the swim/dive record board hanging on the wall at the Spaulding Gym pool. The board pays tribute to past achievements and sets a standard for those who aspire to better those marks.

Far less obvious is a piece of paper taped to the Swim Office door, yet it also acknowledges accomplishment and serves as an inspiration to those who strive to excel. It's the grade transcript of Katie Avener '04.

Athletic records are made to be broken, but Avener's recent success in the classroom cannot be surpassed. Avener, a junior member of the Keene State diving team majoring in biology, tallied a perfect score with a 4.0 GPA during the fall semester.

A modest Avener, from Belfast, Maine, was surprised when she walked into the office and saw her former roommate taping her transcript to the door. "I was going to take it down, but they said leave it up because it's good for other people to see," Avener said.

"Most of the team members don't realize that Katie is such a great student," said head swim coach Gene Leonard. "She sets a tremendous example with her hard work in the pool and in the classroom."

A two-year team captain, Avener thrives on the challenge of maintaining her grades and improving her diving performances. "If I'm not busy, I don't know what to do with myself," said Avener, who also coaches an age-group team, lifeguards, and serves as a resident assistant in her dorm.

A former gymnast who took up diving after injuring her shoulder, Avener received both academic and athletic awards while attending Belfast High School.

One of my favorite subjects is genetics with professor Ken Bergman. It's more practical than microscopic; you can actually see the differences in each person.She earned a place on the National Interscholastic Coaches Association team for having one of the top five diving scores among all divisions in the state and was a finalist for the Wendy's Heisman High School award, an honor that considers athletic, academic, and public service achievements.

Attending a summer diving camp at KSC while she was a junior at Belfast High, Avener had no idea that she would return to the school as a student-athlete. She learned about Keene State from Lorie Robbins '95, a former Owl diver from Belfast, who had returned to teach at her high school, and from her coach, Bob Winslow, whose son Aaron Winslow '01 was captain of the Owl men's squad. Avener has enhanced her studies by deciding to minor in political science. She hopes to attend medical school and eventually join Doctors without Borders.

"It definitely comes easier to me than a lot of people," said Avener about her course work, which also includes classes in women's studies. "One of my favorite subjects is genetics with professor Ken Bergman. It's more practical than microscopic; you can actually see the differences in each person."

Avener has added higher degree dives to her repertoire each season and has become a top competitor for the Owls. Last year, she competed in both diving and swimming events at the New England Championships. "I would like to see my name up in the record book, but I know that's not a realistic goal for me," Avener said. "I'd rather have the balance between the two than have great times and scores and slack off academically. I want to do the best I can in both."