SI Vault
Kelli Anderson
May 27, 2013
The phrase has been hollowed out by years of often cynical misapplication, but every once in a while a special collegian gives the term student-athlete unassailable substance. Meet SI's female College Athlete of the Year, North Carolina sophomore Loren Shealy, an ace field hockey forward, top business administration student, Robertson Scholar and, for one lunch hour in late April, just one of the scores of UNC students who have stopped for a meal or conversation at the Pit, the oak-shaded sunken brick courtyard that serves as the village square of the Chapel Hill campus. Wearing Carolina-blue-and-white workout gear on her slight 5'5" frame, her light-brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, Shealy looks much like dozens of other students on a dead-week study break. But she is different.
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May 27, 2013

Loren Shealy

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Still, Shealy has had moments of individual glory: In a 4--2 win over Maryland in the ACC title game last November, she scored the first and last goals and made the all-tournament team. But forcing an opponent into mistakes and turnovers (pressing, in field hockey parlance) is where she lives. "Scoring is fun," she says, "but I love it when I'm chasing someone down and she makes a bad pass and now we're going to the goal and could score."

Shealy has never passed up a challenge. When her middle school music director lamented the orchestra's lack of cellos, Shealy set aside the violin she had played for five years and learned the cello. In track she ran two of the more brutal events, the mile and the 800 meters, finishing third in the latter in the private-school state meet as a junior. In field hockey she works on her weaknesses rather than her strengths. "I've had a lot of kids over the years who love to work on the things they're good at," says Shelton, "but Loren focuses on the things she's not good at to make herself better, to expand her repertoire."

Summer looms, and for Shealy that means more opportunities to seize. Last summer she spent six weeks in Vietnam teaching physics and tennis to children as part of the Coach for College program. As soon as she arrived back home, she drove 13 hours to Cleveland, Miss., where she joined other Robertson scholars in running a summer enrichment camp for underprivileged kids. This summer her Robertson-sponsored adventure will be interning at a San Francisco hedge fund. While Shealy says she hasn't thought much about next year's goals, one seems clear. "We've lost that NCAA final three years in a row now," she says.

Will Shealy find the time to work on her field hockey game amid the demands of a rigorous internship in the Financial District? You can bank on it.

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