Fargo, N.D. - For just the fourth time in school history, Clark University has an Academic All-American. Volleyball student-athlete Courtney Pharr has been named to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Volleyball third-team it was announced by selection committee chair Jeff Schwartz of North Dakota State University on Tuesday afternoon.
To be eligible, a student-athlete must be a starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.30 on a 4.00 scale, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standing at his/her institution and be nominated by their Sports Information Director.
Since the Academic All-America program began back in 1952, Clark has only had three previous student-athletes achieve that status. Women's swimmer Liz Rosen was a second-team selection in 2011, joining men's soccer's Matthew Maranz (1987, third-team) and women's basketball standout Michele Maxwell (1993, second team).
After more than 500 volleyball student-athletes were nominated throughout the country, that list was whittled down to 53 members of the academic all-district first-team – a place Pharr advanced to in 2015. Those 53 student-athletes' accolades were then voted on by a panel of select sports information directors from around the country and then 18 were placed on first, second or third teams to make up the 2016 Academic All-America class for Division III.
"This is an incredible honor for Courtney and a credit to her relentless determination to be the best student-athlete she can be," said Clark University volleyball head coach Mickey Cahoon. "Courtney has truly been an ambassador for Clark and our program throughout her four years here and I am proud to have had an opportunity to work alongside her."
A biology major on the pre-med track who minors in bioinformatics and public health, Pharr sports a 3.99 grade point average and was an integral part of the historic volleyball season this year. She started all 33 matches as the Cougars advanced to their second consecutive conference title match and made their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. Once there, the Cougars won a thrilling 3-2 match over Montclair State with Pharr contributing five kills and five block assists in the match.
For her career, she appeared in 115 matches, finishing with 632 kills, 149 assists and 161 total blocks. Her 166 service aces rank second on the school's all-time list.
"It is fantastic to have such an academically talented and dedicated student who can also juggle the rigors of starting on an NCAA tournament level team," said Mark Turnbull, Professor of Chemistry at the Carlson School of Chemistry at Clark.
A six-time Dean's List First Honors selection, Pharr is a LEEP Scholarship recipient, which is given based on academic merit, service and leadership. Earlier this week, she was one of eight members of this season's team to be named NEWMAC Academic All-Conference – her third such selection.
Earlier this year she received two prestigious academic awards. First she was awarded the David Potter Award for Excellence in Biology, which is given to the senior biology student for outstanding academic achievement. She also grabbed the Kenneth A. Senter Endowed Award, given annually to pre-med students on the basis of high academic standing.
In addition to Pharr's outstanding athletic and academic achievements, she has given countless hours to community service on campus and in the area surrounding the campus. She serves as President of the University's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and is a member of the University's Athletic Board.
On two occasions, Pharr has spent a portion of her winter break as a member of CAST (Clark Athletics Service-Learning Trip), traveling first to El Cidral, Dominican Republic (2015) and then to Loma Linda, Guatemala (2014) to help use sports as a tool to effect change and participate in meaningful community service.
Her academic pursuits have led her to meaningful real world experiences. In the summer of 2016, Pharr was at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, completing clinical rotations in several different disciplines, including the Psychiatric Emergency Care, Urgent Care and at the Cardiac Catheterization Lab.
In 2015, she was back home in Seattle conducting research at the University of Washington in their Neurological Surgery Summer Student Program with Dr. Nino Ramirez and Dr. Fred Garcia in the Center for Integrative Brain Research at the Seattle Children's Research Institute.
Included in group of Academic All-Americans with Pharr are four other student-athletes from the New England Women's And Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) – Lauren Holt (Springfield), Tori Wutherich (MIT), Marnae Mawdsley (Springfield) and Megan Gebhard (MIT) - giving the conference nearly one third of all the honorees.