Photo by Cade Schmidt

Finding priorities and balancing school work with a social life can be an issue – to study or to party, to catch up on sleep or go drink downtown, to name a few. But imagine balancing college academics with college athletics, and maybe squeezing in a social life. It may sound impossible, but one Western basketball star has got the balance down perfectly, and was recognized nationally for it.

Toward the end of February Western senior and basketball team captain Rory Blanche was named on the 2012 Capital One Academic All-America NCAA Division II first team.

To be nominated, student athletes must be a starter or important reserve with a cumulative 3.30 grade point average, have participated in at least 50 percent in their teams game’s games and have completed at least one calendar year at their institution, according to Capital One Academic All-America Program. The athletes named to the team are nominated by student athletes from their own institution.

“It’s kind of a summation of all my work all in all throughout my college career, on and off the court,” Blanche said. “I make sure that I’m trying to excel in every phase of what I’m doing, so I’m really excited that I was able to get that honor.”

Blanche, who is a manufacturing engineering technology major while he is not playing forward on the basketball court, has a cumulative 3.74 grade point average. Luckily, he’s in a good situation to do more with what he wants to do, Blanche said.
The Western senior has already been offered a job at the Nike world headquarters in Portland, Ore. The job title is design engineer, Blanche said.

This entails working on new shoe concepts, manufacturing them with the machinery and artillery design.

With his career being the next stage for Blanche after Western, basketball is still something he hopes to continue, one way or another.

“I would like to keep playing basketball, whether it’s recreationally or I competively,”Blanche said. “Sports is something that I don’t see myself letting go of anytime soon. I like to live a well-rounded life.”

Coming from an athletic family, sports have always come naturally to Blanche. His mother played basketball and his father played football, so they had an influence on him.

“[Basketball] was always my first love,” Blanche said. “My mom got me started with it when I was younger, and my dad had always given me a competitive streak.”

Blanche knows he will miss the team aspect of playing for Western these past four years. The highlight of the season thus far was senior night.

“Our main goal going into the season was to win a conference championship, which we achieved, and cutting down the nets on senior night was a pretty amazing feeling,” Blanche said. “It was pretty fun to have my parents there, and being able to share the experience with my team, my coaches, fans and family. It was all I could ask for.”

Blanche’s success this year, in the classroom and on the basketball court, has a lot to do with balancing his time and priorities. Being disciplined and getting work done before it’s due is big factor, staying on top of everything is key, Blanche said.

Even though basketball was something that he wanted to focus more time on basketball and making sure it is a huge part of his life, but school comes first, he said.

For any incoming freshman college athlete, excelling at their sport is priority, Blanche said. Since college athletics, as well as academics, is very competitive, being an athlete can overshadow the school aspect of being in college, Blanche said.

“It’s really important to maintain a balance between the two, and make sure you’re on top of your studies as well,” Blanche said. “There are some opportunities after college to keep playing basketball or whatever sport you’re in, but you want to make sure you have a really strong foundation and a good degree to get going with the rest of your life if [playing a sport] doesn’t pan out.”