Fite and Carpenter: Embodiments of the quintessential student-athlete
Upon learning that she had been selected as one of two female Student-Athletes of the Month for November, senior soccer standout Priscilla Fite said she appreciated the recognition of her hard work on the pitch, as well as the classroom.
Ditto for junior Kelsey Carpenter.
“It is quite an honor,” she said. “Being in such an elite group means a lot, given all of the time that student-athletes put in.”
Carpenter, a sports management major from Allen, Texas, is a four-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll, as well as a member of the first team of the 2005 Academic All-Big 12.
“During the recruiting process, the academic environment at Texas was important,” said Carpenter, who also considered Tennessee and Texas A&M.
She was ranked as the No. 10 recruit overall in Soccer America when she was a senior at Allen High School in 2004.
“The academic counselors at Texas are incredible,” Carpenter continued. “They make sure you are doing your work and going to class. When you are a freshman, they are all over you.
“As you get older, they back off a bit.”
Carpenter’s performance for the team is equally impressive, as she was named 2006 Big 12 Conference Offensive Most Valuable Player. She scored game-winning goals against Nebraska and No. 7 Oklahoma State en route to leading the Longhorns to their first Big 12 Soccer Championship.
Both Fite and Carpenter have been standouts on the field for head coach Chris Petrucelli's squad. The Longhorns are currently ranked No. 5 nationally, with a 17-3-2 record and are a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Carpenter’s assists are not limited to the field of play, as she recently began to learn sign language.
“If I can use that skill to help in any way,” Carpenter said, “I really would like to be able to do so.”
Asked about her penchant for scoring late in game-deciding situations, she laughed.
“It’s kind of like in school,” Carpenter began. “I kind of attribute it to procrastination. I usually do my best work when it is getting late and there is not much time left. Studying for tests, cramming at the end, that's something I do.
“Being on the spot and having to come through at the end -- I've kind of gotten used to doing it like that.”
And she has been doing it well.
Dr. Randa Ryan, the senior associate athletics director for student services, can’t say enough about both of the young women.
"Kelsey is one of the most determined student-athletes we've ever had at Texas," Ryan began. "She is passionate about the things she loves and the idea of being involved in sport as her life's work. Kelsey will take her experience in the classroom and from the pitch to create a strong foundation for a future in sports administration.
"Priscilla is one of those special people who does everything right. She is so dutiful and responsible that you never worry about her. She has completed her requirements for applying for medical school and is positioned to graduate in four years. Priscilla is a model student and terrific athlete."
Fite's place on the 2005 NSCA Scholar All-South Region Team, in addition to her First Team Academic All-Big 12 honors in 2003 and 2005 and her spot on the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll from 2003-2006 bear out that assessment. Fite has been on the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll every semester she had been at Texas.
A biology/pre-health major, she said that doing well in school always has been a priority for her going back to Irving MacArthur High School where she graduated in the top 10. As with Carpenter, Fite chose Texas as much for academics as for soccer.
"I was considering Duke and Texas," she explained. "But UT has such a great set up to help all of the student-athletes. The tutors and counselors are there for you to assist you in any way. It was the academic support that drew me to Texas."
And as a biology major playing a sport, Fite has learned in four years that one of the best lessons from the academic support group came in time management.
"I've had a lab just about every semester," she said. "I remember when I had organic chemistry, I would spend about four hours on the lab work, but only got two hours credit for it. We did so many experiments and had to write reports.
"It is easy to be overwhelmed when you look at all of the things you have to do, but you just take it one at a time. You learn to study and leave enough time to sleep and eat."
With it all, Fite still finds time to volunteer at Davis Middle School.
And she is looking at the same kind of time situation after leaving UT with her plans on being a physician's assistant.
Fite admitted that she'd like to write a book about her student-athlete experience.
"To succeed, you have to spend so much time and expend so much effort during four years," she said. "I'd like people to see that there are hard moments, along with the great moments. I'd like them to see the heart and diligence it takes to be a student-athlete. Being a student-athlete is not an easy job.
"I'd like them to see how teammates, going through the same things, support each other."
Fite and Carpenter are perfect examples of that, too.