Pleszewski stars in goal, classroom

It wasn’t an unusual sight for coach Dana Shelters, or the rest of his team for that matter, to see goalkeeper Emily Pleszewski’s nose buried deep inside a thick textbook, or to hear the furious tapping of computer keys as she took notes, during her two years as a member of the Jamestown Community College women’s soccer team.

“She would always be reading or have her laptop open (when we traveled to games),” said Shelters, who is entering his sixth season at the helm of the JCC women’s soccer program. “She was a good example to everyone.”

Take note, fellow student-athletes; for all that hard work hasn’t been for naught. It’s actually been paying some hefty dividends for the Fredonia native of late.

Not only did Pleszewski graduate from JCC with an associates degree in human services (with highest honors) in May, but she was also awarded a scholarship from the American Association of University Women (for her academic achievements, extracurricular activities and community service) and was one of just 169 student-athletes nationwide to be awarded the NJCAA Pinnacle Award for Academic Excellence by virtue of completing her first two collegiate years with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.

She can now add one more academic accolade to that already stellar list: Western New York Athletic Conference (WNYAC) Academic Female Athlete of the Year.

Pleszewski was understandably thrilled at the news.

“I sent her the email (that said she’d been selected for the award) and told her to check it out,” Shelters said, before adding with a laugh, “and before I could get the mass text out to her teammates, they all already knew. She was so excited she put it on Facebook and Twitter right away.”

Pleszewski is the first of Shelter’s many athletes over the years to earn the honor, of which all NJCAA Division 3 athletes (across all Division 3 sports) are in the running.

“This ranges for all sports,” Shelters marvelled, “not just soccer, all sports – basketball, field hockey, swimming, gymnastics, track…

“She’s an exceptional student. That’s the bottom line. To finish with a 4.0 (GPA), she’s done a great job and this is a real accomplishment.”

And others have taken note.

Concordia College, an NCAA Division II school near New York City, in fact, has offered Pleszewski, who along with her strong academic record has put together a solid career on the pitch (she was a second-team All-WNYAC selection last season for her work in the nets for the Jayhawks), a full-ride to attend and play goalie for the women’s soccer team.

“This is the kind of thing I post on the bulletin board in my office,” Shelters said. “It shows that good grades get you good stuff. If you can keep your nose to the grindstone (like Emily) and do the right thing, the awards take care of themselves. And the scholarships come because Emily is a player that coaches don’t have to worry about – they don’t have to worry about investing in them and then having them be academically ineligible to play.”

Whether Pleszewski decides to accept Concordia’s offer remains to be seen; what is clear, however, is that by her hard work and dedication she’s made her future prospects – both in sport and out – that much brighter.