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Twelve years ago, Carlos Asarta was a finalist for the Nebraska Student-Athlete of the Year Award. An accomplished swimmer from Spain, he served as president of Nebraska’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee in 2000-01. Today, Asarta is a Ph.D. associate professor of Practice in UNL’s Department of Economics. As a faculty member who has taught more than 6,000 students over the past six years, Asarta is certain of one thing. “Mary Weatherholt,” he said, “is the most exceptional student-athlete I have ever had the pleasure to teach. She’s an intelligent, applied, involved, personable and polite student-athlete leader who deserves recognition for every accomplishment.”
Arriving at Nebraska as a 17-year-old freshman tennis star from Shawnee Mission, Kan., South High School, Weatherholt realized what she had to do to excel – be an expert in time management, balance various athletic, academic and life skills responsibilities, be a good team player, develop and hone her leadership skills and prove she could work hard and be competitive every day.
Weatherholt met those goals and earned the highest individual honor a Nebraska student-athlete can receive. She also became the first Husker in history to sweep the top academic honor as the Student-Athlete of the Year, plus win the Heart & Soul Award, the top annual honor bestowed in Life Skills. Less than a week after that double-barreled feat, Weatherholt led the Huskers to their first regular-season conference tennis title in 35 years. Sunday’s 4-0 win over Wisconsin enabled Nebraska (21-4 overall and 10-1 in the Big Ten) to share the league championship with No. 6-ranked Michigan. Weatherholt and fellow senior Patricia Veresova are No. 4 nationally in doubles with an 18-1 record. Weatherholt also ranks No. 11 nationally in singles with 22-1 record. That includes an 11-0 Big Ten mark that should allow a repeat conference player of the year honor.
Weatherholt Learns Five Valuable Lessons
One of Weatherholt’s favorite college professors was not surprised. In 2012, the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska (ASUN) named Asarta the Outstanding Educator of the Year for teaching classes with 60 or fewer students. Having spent most of his childhood moving around France and Spain, Asarta moved to America and went on to earn three degrees at UNL. He takes great pride in going the extra mile to learn his students’ names and to equip them with the tools they need to succeed.
Weatherholt is in Asarta’s “extraordinary” student category. He marvels at the perfect score she achieved on the Principles of Macroeconomics, a 200-level course designed to introduce students to macroeconomics and prepare them for further training. She also had a perfect attendance record and completed all optional homework assignments. She did equally well in another 200-level econ course, plus a 300-level course on theory that required courses in calculus and statistics. “Mary earned the only perfect score in her class and was in the top 2 percent of students overall,” Asarta said. “She is truly an outstanding student, and an equally outstanding athlete.”
As a freshman in 2009, Weatherholt was named the Big12 Conference Freshman of the Year in Tennis. In 2012, she was named the Big Ten Women’s Tennis Athlete of the Year. Weatherholt, 21, achieved a GPA of 3.87 while juggling priorities. She believes that intercollegiate athletics taught her five lessons that will be helpful throughout the rest of her life:
1) Athletics taught Weatherholt to respect authority. “Since your coaches are with you for years,” she said, I learned to trust and support their decisions and focus only on what I can control and what I can do to be the best player I can be for them and for my teammates.”
2) Athletics taught her that relationships are the most important ingredient in life. “They’re important for both success and joy, and forgiveness and humility are vital for close relationships to thrive,” she said. “At one point, one of my teammates and I didn’t get along, and it affected the whole team chemistry, dynamics and success. When we forgave each other and mended our relationship, it helped us to have the best season in school history and have more fun as a team than we’ve ever had.”
3) Athletics taught her that success goes beyond talent, smarts and ability. “It’s about attitude and effort and loving and caring for one another – in sports and in the real world,” she said. “A cohesive team cares about each other, has the same goals and is incomparably stronger as a group rather than just a bunch of individuals.”
4) Athletics taught her about overcoming adversity and hardships. “When I tore my knee my junior year, rehab was painful and not being able to compete was excruciating,” she said. “I learned how to have a positive attitude despite what was thrown my way. I learned how to be the best teammate off the court and how to motivate, inspire and help my teammates, even though I couldn’t play. The injury taught me how dependent I really am.”
5) Athletics taught her how important community is. “From coaches, teammates and other athletes to trainers, doctors and staff in Academics, Life Skills and Compliance, I had more care and support than I could have fathomed,” she said. “From security and training table workers to athletic directors, I felt like part of the Husker family. I’ve learned how valuable people are, and those connections run deep. They provide the backbone of life.”
Bottom line, Weatherholt learned that in athletics, “it really isn’t about me or what I’ve done or can do to help myself,” she said. “It’s about giving my best effort and having the best attitude I can have in all areas of my life, whether it’s to glorify God, represent the University, achieve team success or help as many people as possible. I am so grateful to be a student-athlete at Nebraska. It has formed me into the person I am.”
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