Arthur Ashe Jr. SPORTS SCHOLARS 2001

Article excerpt

IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN

Black Issues In Higher Education in 1992 established the Sports Scholars Award to honor undergraduate students of color who exemplify the standards Set by tennis great Arthur Ashe Jr. A scholar and athlete, Ashe sought to expand opportunities for young people. Each year we invite every postsecondary institution in the country to participate in this awards program by nominating their outstanding sports scholars. In addition to their athletic ability, students named Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars must exhibit academic excellence as well as community activism.

To be included, students have to compete in an intercollegiate sport; maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.2; and be active on their campuses or in their communities. On the following pages are many student-athletes who are on top of their game. Two of these scholar-athletes -- soccer player Danielle Slaton of Santa Clara University and Langston University quarterback Archie D. Craft II were selected as Sports Scholars of the Year for best exemplifying the standards of scholarship, athleticism and humanitarianism.

Black Issues In Higher Education salutes Danielle and Archie and all of the 2001 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars. The other honorees are listed alphabetically and within teams on the following pages.

DANIELLE SLATON

Reaching Goals On And Off the Field

Santa Clara soccer star shines in academics, athletics and community service

BY ELEANOR LEE YATES

SANTA CLARA, CALIF.

People around Santa Clara University know Danielle Slaton as a fierce competitor who won a spot on the U.S. Olympic women's soccer team last year. She is the kind of player who never gives out or lets up. And in the classroom, professors see that same intense focus. Despite all her traveling for soccer games, Slaton maintains a strong A average.

But with so many achievements early in life, Slaton has already learned a valuable lesson that many young stars never do -- it's all about balance.

"I'd go crazy if I didn't. Balance is the key," says Slaton, 20. "My friends help me keep my perspective on life."

Slaton was raised in San Jose, Calif., the oldest daughter of high school teachers. Her father, Frank Slaton, teaches physical education and is a high school track coach. Her mother, Sandy, teaches middle school. Her parents got Slaton started in soccer at the age of 5 -- she was the only girl on the team.

Through her school years she stuck with soccer.

"I come from a big track family," she says. "My father had run track, my sister ran track. But I always loved soccer," says Slaton. "I liked the creativity of it. It's not like basketball, which has so many more rules."

She played in YMCA and city recreation department leagues, eventually ending up on girl teams.

"I had good teachers. They made it fun," she recalls. The sport became more serious for Slaton at age 12, when she enrolled in an Olympic development program.

High school offers a bevy of extracurricular activities for teen-agers. And because of social activities, many lose interest in a favorite sport or activity. But Slaton had no intention of letting soccer go.

"Soccer has always been fun for me. It takes a lot of time and there are sacrifices. But it's worth it. There would be a real void if I wasn't doing it," she says.

At Presentation High School in San Jose, Slaton was captain of the girls' soccer team, and helped lead her team to a regional championship. As student body president, she was also a leader off the athletic field.

Slaton's soccer prowess, academic achievement and school leadership netted her an athletic scholarship to Santa Clara University, which has long boasted a nationally acclaimed soccer program. Santa Clara has been in the Top 10 of women's Division I soccer for the last 12 years. …