Senior scores on field, in classroom
Andy Troeger | Wednesday, December 3, 2003
Over the history of the women’s soccer program at Notre Dame, very few players have distinguished themselves on the field as much as Vanessa Pruzinsky, and that does not even begin to touch on what she has done in the classroom.Pruzinsky, one of only three Notre Dame students ever to achieve a 4.0 GPA in chemical engineering, recently was named Academic All-American of the Year for women’s soccer. She was one of three Irish players selected to the All-American team. Junior Mary Boland and sophomore Erika Bohn both made the second team. With that distinction, the Irish became the first team in NCAA Division I women’s soccer history to have three players named to the Academic All-America team.Pruzinsky also achieved a number of other NCAA Division I milestones. She and Penn State’s Joanna Lohman became the first two women’s soccer players to earn the first team Academic All-American award three times. Pruzinsky also joined basketball great Bob Arnzen to become one of just two Notre Dame student-athletes to be a three-time Academic All-American. Those two are also the only two Irish student-athletes to be named first team Academic All-America in their sophomore and junior seasons. Freshmen are not eligible for the award. It was the latest in a long number of accolades for Pruzinsky, who has been featured in Sports Illustrated and on CSTV, as well as in other publications. Through it all, Pruzinsky has remained pretty matter-of-fact regarding her accomplishments, attributing them to hard work and good time management.”You don’t have time to procrastinate, so it forces you to be efficient with your time,” Pruzinsky said. “Soccer takes up so much time, I think that helped also because as soon as I’m done playing soccer I have to get work done.”Despite her efficiency, Pruzinsky is the first to admit that balancing soccer and school is not easy, especially with goals as lofty as a 4.0 every semester.”I probably don’t get enough sleep,” said Pruzinsky. “I wish there were more hours in the day, definitely.”With the soccer team’s season coming to an end a few weeks ago, Pruzinsky has had the opportunity now to look back on what the team meant to her over her Notre Dame career.”[Soccer] was basically my enjoyment for four years,” Pruzinsky said. “Studying and all the homework causes stress sometimes, but soccer was always the fun part of my day and I always looked forward to it. It was a good break from work.”Pruzinsky also had the opportunity to compete on two Irish teams that made the College Cup, the Final Four of women’s soccer. The highlight of those experiences came in her freshman season, when the Irish upset Santa Clara in the semi-finals. “We got dominated the whole game, we were playing defense for a full 90 minutes,” said Pruzinsky. “We crossed midfield once and scored and won the game.”Last season she missed all but a few minutes of action due to a nagging ankle injury that even hampered her some this year.”Last year was a pretty tough season to watch, we had a lot of injuries,” she said. “Just knowing that could have been my last season hit me, so this season I just appreciated every game. It meant a lot to me.”Having been named Academic All-American of the Year for women’s soccer, Pruzinsky now is a contender to win the award for all NCAA Sports, won two years ago by women’s basketball star Ruth Riley.