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SouthtownStar Athletes on Campus: Kelly McGrail a finalist WIAC softball scholar-athlete award

Wisconsin-Whitewater softball player Kelly McGrail | Supplied photo

Wisconsin-Whitewater softball player Kelly McGrail | Supplied photo

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Updated: June 23, 2014 11:46AM



When it comes to excellence inside the classroom, Wisconsin-Whitewater softball player Kelly McGrail truly defines the term student-athlete.

In fact, the Tinley Park resident is so strong academically she’s been selected as the recipient of the 2014 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s Judy Kruckman Softball Scholar-Athlete Award.

The award is named after Judy Kruckman, who served as WIAC assistant commissioner from 1996 to ’98. Prior to that, Kruckman was commissioner of the Wisconsin Women’s Intercollegiate Athletic Conference from October 1984 through September 1996.

In order to be nominated for the scholar-athlete award, a student-athlete must have a minimum 3.50 grade-point average. In addition, she must be in her final year of competition, or on schedule to graduate during the academic year and have competed for a minimum of two years.

McGrail, a senior second baseman, maintains a 3.98 GPA. She’s majoring in special education with a minor in cognitive disabilities. The Andrew graduate also garnered Whitewater’s Chancellor Scholar-Athlete Award and the school’s Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year earlier this year.

To win the Kruckman Scholar-Athlete Award, McGrail was chosen from a group of five finalists from the eight WIAC schools.

“It’s really an awesome feeling to know that this was awarded not only for athleticism, but also for working hard in the classroom and doing well academically,” McGrail said. “There is only one senior who gets this (award), so it is very cool.”

As for her major, McGrail said that it was during her time at Andrew when her future career path began to come into view.

“In high school, at first I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” McGrail said. “I knew that I always wanted to coach. I did some camps with one of my coaches from grade school and she told me I’d be a great teacher.”

At Andrew, McGrail participated as a tutor in the PEOPEL initiative, which is an adaptive physical education program for students with special needs. This provided McGrail an opportunity to work one-on-one with students with special needs.

McGrail progressed to instructing individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities as part of a program with the South Suburban Special Recreation Association in Tinley Park.

“It was a combination of the different experiences of working with individuals with disabilities that made me want to work with students in the classroom setting as an educator,” McGrail said. “Some of the kids I’ve worked with have been amazing.

“It’s challenging at times, but it’s also very rewarding.”

On the field, McGrail has been a key contributor for the Warhawks (35-10 overall, 12-2 WIAC). Whitewater is playing at Illinois Wesleyan in an NCAA Division III Super-Regional over weekend.

McGrail, who started all 45 games, was batting .313 with seven doubles and five home runs. She also added 31 runs and 23 RBI.

“We knew from the start this would be a special season,” McGrail said. “A lot of us have been playing together for two or three seasons.

“Everyone has an essential role; no one is more special or more valuable. We’ve had a true 100 percent team effort. That’s what has made us successful.”

Touch of Gray

Greenville College’s Bruce Gray was named the Saint Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Athlete of the Week in men’s track and field for the period ending April 14.

Gray, who prepped at Leo, set a school record in the 200-meter dash with a time of 20.81 seconds and a first-place finish at the Saint Louis Billiken Invitational on April 11 and 12.

Gray, a junior at the downstate school, added two more first-place finishes to his resume. He led the way in the 100 (10.5 seconds) and also contributed to the victorious 400 relay team.



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