Maddie Akins: Student Athlete of Month

maddie3 jpgThe Stetson women’s volleyball dove into 2014 with a 5-1 start, the best in school history. A huge part of this early success was the September Student-Athlete of the Month, Madison Akins.

Akins is a sophomore right-side hitter majoring in elementary education with a minor in English from Brookes, Ga. A co-captain, she is currently second on the team in kills and third in blocks. Perhaps her most important asset to her teammates, however, has nothing to do with stats. “Maddie is special; not every coach has a player like her,” said head volleyball coach Kristina Hernandez. “She does everything for us. She has the ability to score points in every fashion, on offense, on defensive, as a server. But she’s also a great communicator. She keeps everyone on the same page and focused on our mission. She holds firm to the values on the team no matter what, and that’s not easy to do.”

Currently Akins holds a 3.71 cumulative G.P.A. and a staggering 4.0 G.P.A. within her major. When asked about the key to the balancing act of schoolwork and volleyball, she said, “The hardest thing about being a student-athlete is finding the balance to be successful in both. It’s most difficult when you’re traveling because you may be missing class. You have to be responsible and contact your professors and get your work done before you leave. You have to plan to be busy.”

“Maddie is caring, responsible and hardworking,” said Rajni Shankar-Brown, Ph.D., associate professor and Jessie Ball duPont Chair of Education, raving about Maddie’s dedication to improvement. “Maddie is a lifelong learner,” said Shankar-Brown. “She cares about learning and becoming a better educator. Maddie stood out right away. She has a love for learning that shows in the classroom. Students can see that; it’s contagious. The best teachers are committed to learning themselves. I can’t wait for her to go out and teach.”

Coach Hernandez mirrored this sentiment, saying, “Maddie’s always looking to get better. If she’s having an off-day, she will come talk to me for feedback. But she’s also a problem-solver and finds ways to get better on her own. She really encompasses everything we need in a player.”

To Akins, this balance is just a part of who she is. “To be successful in school you have to keep yourself accountable,” she said. “It’s the same way in sports. You have to show up to practice the same way you show up to class, focused and ready to work hard. I’ve always been both a student and an athlete, so for me, it’s a mindset.”!

By Sarah Frohnapfel