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Excellence on the court and in the classroom
Lindsey Butterfield exemplifies high standards of Falcon student-athletes
It would be easy to transpose the numbers and the allegiances with Lindsey Butterfield — she covers a lot of ground.
First, there’s 2.88 — the kills per set she averages as an outside hitter on the BGSU Volleyball team. And there’s 3.89 — the GPA she maintains as a biology major.
Then there are her dual roles on campus that require the day be carefully divided between science and sport, with excellence the goal in both arenas.
“Lindsey is a very important part of this team, as a player and as a role model on what it takes to be a true student-athlete,” head coach Danijela Tomic said.
Dr. Ray Larsen, a biology professor at the University, has Butterfield working in his biology lab.
“She is a very valuable member of my research team,” Dr. Larsen said.
Two major commitments, two important teams, but not too much for Butterfield, a junior from Springfield, Ohio, who this season has helped the Falcons contend for a Mid-American Conference championship, and a potential berth in the NCAA tournament.
“I think it’s a mindset, knowing you are not in this alone,” said Butterfield, who is in the pre-dentistry program. “You have a lot of people — roommates, teammates, family, advisors, coaches, instructors — all supporting you. It helps to be around positive people, in volleyball and in school.”
Prioritizing and managing her obligations, while juggling ambitious short-term and long-range objectives, makes each day a testament to Butterfield’s organizational aptitude.
“You just have to make sacrifices in order to get everything done,” she said. “I knew when I came to BG that I would have two full-time jobs, but if you want it badly enough, you’ll make those necessary sacrifices.”
In the lab, Butterfield is examining how cell proteins work together, and how that interaction is impacted by mutations. The hope is that the on-going study leads to better antibiotics and drug therapies.
Dr. Larsen said that besides being very bright and intuitive in her class work, Butterfield also uses excellent time management skills.
“Lindsey clearly is always thinking ahead. She makes sure to never be in a position where she has to make any excuses. That requires quite a balancing act, so there are probably very few times when she isn’t busy with academics or athletics.”
Butterfield said anticipating what lies ahead has helped her find success in volleyball matches and in classroom challenges.
“There are times when all of this can be overwhelming, but it feels pretty good when you accomplish what you set out to do,” she said. “Coach Tomic reinforces that all of the time. I think she sees everything as being deliberate, that there’s no point in doing anything halfway, in any aspect of your life.”
Butterfield, who will likely play in more than 100 matches for the Falcons during her career, was an honorable mention Academic All-MAC selection last season. She is part of the dual threat this team poses: court and classroom — they come to play.
Last year the Falcons won a 12th consecutive national award for achieving a team GPA of 3.30 or better. Bowling Green Volleyball has the second-longest streak in all of Division I for receiving that honor.
“We tell our student-athletes from the start that they are coming here to get a great education — and that’s the priority,” Tomic said. “Fortunately, the culture in volleyball here is that we are a very strong academic program, and I want to continue that tradition.”
BG Volleyball was one of just four university teams in the country to achieve a perfect 100 percent graduation rate in a review recently released by the NCAA.
“Academics are very important to the coaches and to this team,” Butterfield said. “The coaches know we have two jobs while we’re here, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a champion at both. We’re encouraged to have a good balance in our lives.”
Tomic said student-athletes such as Butterfield function well with the weight of high expectations.
“We talk a lot about ‘volleyball intelligence’, and we tell them we expect them to be smart in the classroom, but also smart about how they train, how they practice, and how they perform on the court.
“Lindsey exemplifies that, so I have no doubt that she is going to do all those things she is working toward. When we say ‘student-athlete’, she is a very good example of what we are talking about.”