By Benjamin Wideman / Director of Media Relations and Sports Information
The success of student-athletes is seemingly based on numbers — namely, personal statistics and team win-loss records.
And for Silver Lake College junior Amanda Kudick, those numbers are impressive.
The 5-foot-7 guard led the women’s basketball team in assists (4.4 per game), steals (2.6) and minutes (27.6), and was third in scoring (9.4 points) and rebounds (5.9).
In addition, the co-captain spearheaded SLC’s 21-7 record and berth in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association’s National Championships for the first time in two decades.
But there’s another number that truly defines Kudick as a student-athlete — her 3.9 grade-point average.
By virtue of her combined academic and athletic excellence, Kudick earned the prestigious Student-Athlete of the Year Award from the USCAA for Division 1 women’s basketball earlier this month.
“Amanda’s impressive accomplishment is a reminder of the importance of balancing academics and athletics in college — and not only has she balanced them but she has excelled in them,” Silver Lake College president Dr. Chris Domes said. “She’s a real example to all student-athletes of how to succeed in all aspects of your college experience.”
The Student-Athlete of the Year Award is determined by a committee comprised of USCAA national office members, board members and athletic directors of member institutions.
Kudick said it was “a little nerve-racking” when her name was announced at the USCAA’s annual banquet in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. She wasn’t aware head coach Mike Flentje had nominated her, so the rousing ovation she received from the hundreds of players, coaches and administrators was a pleasant surprise.
“Everyone was cheering and very supportive, so it was just very emotional. I did not expect it at all. I definitely didn’t expect to get three awards that night,” said Kudick, who also was named an Academic All-American for her work in the classroom and an honorable mention All-American for her work on the court.
Kudick, a 2013 graduate of Kewaunee High School, is majoring in Elementary Education and Secondary Math Education. Her dream job is to teach high school math in her hometown after graduating next spring. The youngest of four siblings, she’s proud to say she’ll be the first person in her family to graduate from a four-year college.
“I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was a little kid,” she said. “Most people are like, ‘I want to be an astronaut, or I want to play football.’ Not me. In kindergarten, I knew I wanted to be a teacher, and all my teachers looked at me like I was crazy. I like helping people and seeing people learn new things.”
Steven Kuehl, chair of the Mathematics Department at Silver Lake College, said Kudick is an exemplary student.
“Amanda is a smart, thoughtful and wonderfully engaged student with a great deal of intellectual curiosity,” he said. “Outside the classroom, you can find Amanda tutoring other students in all areas of mathematics including Statistics and Calculus. Moreover, Amanda’s classmates always know to ask her for help.
“For all of her course projects, Amanda always ties in how she will use the material when she becomes an educator. Amanda will not only make an amazing educator, she will make a great member of the community in which she lives. I am proud to call her one of my favorite students.”
Kudick is accustomed to excelling both academically and athletically. She maintained a 3.98 GPA at Kewaunee High School, and her team won WIAA state basketball championships her final two seasons.
“As an athlete, we know it takes smarts to succeed,” she said. “In high school, our team’s average GPA was like a 3.9. That’s why we won championships — we were smart and we played smart on the court. What you do in the classroom is reflected in what you do on the court, and what you do on the court is reflected in what you do in the classroom.
“And here (at Silver Lake College), to have seven Academic All-Americans on our team this season, that was incredible. We know how to play smart, and I think that helps win games.”
Flentje said Kudick’s athleticism and determination help win games, as well. “Simply put, she is the best overall basketball player I have ever coached,” he said. “Offense, defense, hustle, desire, leadership. You name it, she has it all.”
Kudick said it can be challenging balancing athletics and academics, especially when she’s taking 19-20 credits per semester. This semester, she juggles seven classes.
“It’s actually really hard,” she said. “Ever since I was young, I think I took on more activities than I should have. I was always in clubs, involved in everything possible in school. So now it almost seems easier in college because high school prepared me so well for it.”
Kudick keeps herself busy away from college as well.
She’s head coach of the Kewaunee High School boys’ and girls’ tennis teams as well as the middle school’s coed tennis team, and she helps with the high school basketball program. She’s also active in her church, Holy Rosary Parish in Kewaunee, and enjoys playing piano and spending time with friends and family. In the summers, she works about 60 hours per week at various jobs.
And on April 9 she’ll be among several student volunteers at Silver Lake College’s 10th annual Scholarship Gala, presented by C.D. Smith. She said it’s important to support the college and people who have supported her along the way.
“When I was looking into going to college, I didn’t know if college was going to be the thing for me. Without the scholarships I got from Kewaunee and Silver Lake, I know that for sure I wouldn’t have been able to go,” said Kudick, a recipient of Silver Lake College’s Presidential Scholarship, Service Award Scholarship and Athletic Scholarship (she also plays soccer). “I think Silver Lake makes it so affordable and they do everything in their power to make it affordable and focus on school.”
Kudick said the support she has received over the years has been instrumental to her success. She credits her parents, Russ and Cindy, and three older brothers, Kyle, Jason and Shane, as well as her cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, late grandparents and former and current teachers and teammates.
“I want to be known as a leader and someone who helped the school develop its basketball program,” she said. “And I want to be known as a good student. In math programs, sometimes there aren’t a lot of women. So I want to be a role model for girls to show that anybody can be a math major, it’s not just boys. And anybody can succeed if they keep trying hard.”