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For successful athletes, academics and sports merge
By Dave Geringer and Jamie Schanback

Candice Smith • Basketball

[PHOTO: Candice Smith]

[PHOTO: Candice Smith]Senior Candice Smith, Crystal Wheelock's former teammate, traded in her spandex and knee pads for a knee brace and baggy shorts this fall. Following the conclusion of her volleyball career, she joined the women's basketball team this year to play a sport that she had enjoyed since her youth.

Smith was participating in a Fairbanks city basketball league this fall when a UAF assistant coach noticed her and wheels were set in motion. Coaches said she could play for the rest of the year if she elected to take advantage of the opportunity. It was an easy decision for the Mount Lehman, British Columbia native, and she laced up her sneakers and stepped on the court.

[QUOTE: Instead of everyone helping me, like they did initially, I'm helping my teammates more and more.]For the 6-1 senior "rookie," it wasn't as easy as she remembered from when she played in high school. "It was twice as hard at the beginning because all of my skills were rusty," said Smith. "I almost had to re-learn them, and then also make the transition to the college game and the college mentality." Goal-oriented and self-driven, she continued to work hard, with the help of her teammates and Head Coach Lynne Andrew.

After a few months of practice and competition, she has found her niche. "I feel more like an upperclassman," said Smith. "Instead of everyone helping me, like they did initially, I'm helping my teammates more and more." With her stature and strength she's challenging the Nanooks in practice and their opponents in games.

Smith has always been as dedicated to her studies as she has to her athletic ventures, having been named to the dean's list three times and the chancellor's list twice.

In December, she graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in anthropology, and is currently working on a master's degree. She also works for the UA Museum of the North when she's not studying or competing.

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All UAF photos by Todd Paris unless otherwise noted.