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

Crystal Wheelock • Volleyball

[PHOTO: Crystal Wheelock][PHOTO: Crystal Wheelock]A senior academically but junior eligibility-wise, Nanook volleyball player Crystal Wheelock is making the most of her collegiate experience. The Anchorage native will complete a bachelor's degree this year with a double major in psychology and sociology.

A multi-sport athlete, Wheelock competed in softball and volleyball at East High School in Anchorage and cross country running and track and field in middle school. Her quickness and agility made her stand out. She opted to red-shirt her first season at UAF, which meant participating in all of the team's regular practices and meetings on top of carrying a full load all year, but not playing in any official games.

[PHOTO: Crystal Wheelock during UAF vs. Western Washington]Her career at UAF was severely shaken toward the end of her freshman year with the death of her father. Wheelock stayed in Fairbanks that summer finishing some incompletes and maintaining her physical training. "You can choose to let adversity control you or you can control it," she said referring to how she got through the difficult period.

Although her role has changed from season to season, switching from the outside hitter position to become the Nanooks' libero (a special defensive player who can move freely on the court) the last two seasons, she has continued to excel on the court and lead her teammates by example. She set personal and conference records for most digs in a game, and when given the opportunity to hit, dominated with her speed and craftiness.

She has also excelled in her classes, being named to the dean's list three times and the chancellor's list once within the past five semesters.

Wheelock gives credit to her teammates and friends for helping her along her journey. "A lot of my success in the last few years has come from the support of friends and members of the community acting as a family for me," Wheelock said.

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All UAF photos by Todd Paris unless otherwise noted.