By NICK KOSKO
It is tough to be a success both on the field and in the classroom. If a student-athlete is not dedicated to his or her studies, and committed to their athletic craft, they can often crumble under the pressure of maintaining a standard of excellence in both arenas.
But there is the rare breed of student-athlete who can excel in both and practically make it look easy. They could be naturally gifted or possess a tremendous work ethic. In this case, it is both.
Meet Ella Glenn, a first-baseman for the reigning state Group 4 runner-up Egg Harbor Township softball team, and this edition’s Old Cape Recycling Scholar Athlete.
Not only is Glenn a stud on the diamond, she is a cut above the rest inside the walls of Egg Harbor Township High School. Glenn is actually No. 1 in her class rankings, to be exact, and will be valedictorian for the Class of 2017.
Being a starter on a championship team is tough enough for many student-athletes at the high school varsity level. Glenn manages that and a full AP course load every single day.
The 4.0 grade-point average scale can’t even contain Glenn’s academic achievements. Her GPA has exceeded perfect; it is well above 4.0 when weighted honors classes are factored in. Of course, colleges will see a 4.0, but it is anyone’s guess as to how high Glenn’s GPA goes above the standard scale.
“It’s pretty tough considering I have a lot of work to do in school and outside of school,” Glenn said. “I dedicate a lot of time to this team in order to make us better every day. Now that AP testing is over, I have a little less work to do academically, so I can definitely focus more energy on helping us win.”
Head coach Mary Dunlap cannot help but be impressed by Glenn day in and day out. She said Glenn has a rare combination of being a gifted student and athlete, and is able to excel at both despite the pressures and demands on her schedule.
“Those AP classes put her way over the 4.0 scale, which is really impressive,” Dunlap said. “She is a kid who has learned to balance academics and athletics so well, and so have a lot of our girls. It is really great how they all feed off of each other.”
When students mention their favorite classes, generally they are the easier ones that do not require much studying. However, for Glenn, her favorite is one in which she is challenged and must put forth maximum effort.
“My favorite class would have to be physics,” Glenn said. “It was a really challenging class and probably the most challenging class I have ever taken. It made it even more rewarding.”
It might be her favorite, but Glenn has different ideas about what to study after high school.
“I actually want to pursue chemistry and pre-med in college,” Glenn said. “I am ready for that challenge, too.”
What happens when AP testing and softball collide? The biggest challenge of Glenn’s career.
“It was definitely the few weeks leading up to AP testing,” Glenn said, explaining the toughest portion of the school year. “I had to constantly study for all of my tests on top of practicing and playing in many tough games. We had to play Millville, among other teams. I had to focus hard on two different things, but I’m glad it is winding down.”
While academics and athletics are separate, Glenn and her teammates sometimes bring them together while on the field, especially with coach Dunlap. On occasion, Dunlap recites a question to her team. Glenn is always the first to answer and she definitely turns some heads. The EHT softball team also won the academic award for spring sports in the high school based on its team GPA.
“Last year, we won that award and that is because the girls were striving for it,” Dunlap said. “They wanted to be recognized as outstanding students and they all put their heads together and really worked at it. Everyone encourages each other. Ella is a rare breed and she will say things that are beyond our comprehension, but she is a kid, just like anybody. She loves to have fun and be quirky and just fool around with her teammates.”
“(Dunlap) likes to fool around and ask me questions,” Glenn said. “Once I answer, everyone is surprised and is kind of amazed that it is a complicated answer, or something like that. They all like to laugh, so it is pretty funny. Even with that, it pushes the rest of the team to work hard in school as well.”
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By NICK KOSKO