When senior defensive lineman Andrew Pabst heard the news that he had received Academic All-American status in football, he wasn’t sure how to react.
“When I heard about the award, I received texts and other messages from current and past coaches as well as friends and teammates,” said Pabst, who is a Grand Ledge native. “The positive communications helped me recognize and appreciate its significance, as well as the many years of hard work it took it earn it.”
Pabst, a criminal justice major, has known about this award since his freshman year of college football camp. He noticed the black and brown plaques on the walls outside of the football locker room, and he recognized the Academic All-American athletes for whom the walls were adorned.
During his senior year at The University of Olivet, Pabst had one of those seasons worth the wall’s attention. He carried a 3.98 grade point average in criminal justice and started every game for the Comets on the defensive line, which helped the team share the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) title with a 9-1 overall record. A second-team All-MIAA selection, he finished the season with 27 total tackles (12 solo and 15 assisted) to go along with two blocked kicks.
“I have played football for 12 years and from the very first practice back in fifth grade, I have loved football,” Pabst said. “Given the choice, I would rather dedicate all my time to football, but I know that as a student-athlete, the student part must always come first. The keys to success in the classroom and the athletic venue are time management and setting priorities. Another key to success is preparation; as practice is important to success in athletics, practice (homework and studying) are important to success in academics. My love of football provided me with the incentive and encouragement to succeed in football, and I used that same motivation that drove me athletically to meet my academic goals.”
There have been three individuals at The University of Olivet who have made the greatest impact on Pabst and his quest toward success: coaches Warren Maloney and Dan “Moose” Musielewicz, and Prof. Regina Armstrong, Ph.D., assistant professor of criminal justice.
“Coach Maloney joined OC in the spring of my freshman year as the defensive line coach. He has coached a lot of football players and really knows how to individually motivate his players.” Pabst said. “He became a mentor to me during our team activities and individual meetings. At one of our meetings at the end of my freshman year, I remember him telling me I had the potential to be an All-American. While I was not exactly sure what I had to accomplish to become an All-American, I knew that it involved putting everything I could into football and my college courses.
“Coach Musielewicz had the biggest impact on my attending The University of Olivet because he relentlessly did everything to recruit me to play football,” Pabst said. “He has continued to impact my football because his coaching style consistently mirrors his life philosophy: to always give 100 percent. I find that philosophy yields the best results. An athlete who does not practice at 100 percent will not give 100 percent during a game and the results will reflect the effort. The same is true in the classroom. If a student is not putting forth 100 percent in class and homework/studying, then he or she cannot expect top grades.”
Armstrong, as a professor, had this same impact for Pabst.
“She goes beyond the lessons from the textbook and uses class activities that put the knowledge into practice, such as the mock trials we prepared for and ‘presented’ to a jury of classmates in criminal law,” Pabst said. “In addition, she encourages students to look at a multitude of possible careers in criminal justice to expand their potential career options. She pursued and attained her doctoral degree while continuing to teach, which makes her a great role model.”
With Pabst’s accolade, this is the 26th Academic All-America® award in Olivet history. Pabst is the third football player in school history to earn the honor. The other two are Marc Miller (second-team in 2007) and Travis Sleight (second-team in 2004 and first-team in 2005).
To be eligible for Academic All-America® consideration, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.30 on a scale of 4.00, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standings at his/her current institution and be nominated by his or her sports information director.