Tiny Utah College Has 23 Athletes at Sochi

Tiny Utah College Has 23 Athletes at Sochi
  • Opening Intro -

    Talk about student-athletes -- tiny Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, claims 23 students as members of the 2014 US Winter Olympic team.

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The private liberal arts college, the only one of its kind in Utah, has more students more students competing in the Sochi games than any other US college or university.

Westminster and USSA

Thanks to a unique partnership with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA), Westminster is able to give athletes an education while making it possible for them to compete in Russia. The college’s proximity to world-class facilities is an important factor in that relationship.

Westminster College and the USSA first forged their partnership in 2005. Since then, more than 100 USSA members have attended Westminster, enabling them to continue with their educational pursuits while competing for the gold, silver and bronze.

Westminster student Jessica Jerome is on the inaugural U.S. women’s ski jumping team. Like the other Olympic student-athletes, Jerome found a way to continue with her studies while participating in her favorite sport. Said Jerome, “My dad was always very adamant that I could make ski jumping a priority, but I didn’t have to sacrifice my education completely. I love that when I do decide to quit skiing, I’m not going to have to start from nothing.”

High GPA Average

And just as the Olympians dedicate themselves to furthering their athletic pursuits, they’re coming up quite nicely academically too. Indeed, this cohort has an average 3.56 GPA, demonstrating that they’re just as serious in succeeding in the classroom as they are on the slopes or the half pipe.

Seventeen of the 23 Westminster athletes in Russia have undeclared majors. Fifteen students are freshmen; one student, Torin Koos, is working toward his Master of Professional Communication. The other students that have declared majors are working toward degrees in business, economics, history and psychology.

Tuition Remission

The USSA provides the Olympians with tuition remission to qualifying athletes. Bill Marolt, President and CEO, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association commented, “Our partnership with Westminster College has made a difference for skiers and snowboarders athletically by providing a flexible opportunity to train at the Center of Excellence while studying nearby at Westminster.”

Marolt stressed that the arrangement allows the Olympians to combine their education and athletics for a “profound impact on the student athletes going to Russia.”

The small size of Westminster College also provides an advantage for the athletes — indeed for all students — that a large, public university does not offer. Faculty and staff work closely with the students in an effort to help them achieve their academic goals.

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