Montana State University

Student-athlete balances academics, cheering and community service

January 20, 2010 -- MSU News Service

Spirit Squad Captain Kelsey Edinger balances academics, cheering and community service. (MSU photo by Kelly Gorham)   High-Res Available

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Kelsey Edinger knows how to set priorities. She has to. As a senior in exercise science, a Bobcat cheerleader, and an active volunteer in the Bozeman community, her days hum with activity.

Edinger is the recent recipient of the 2009 Montana State Female Athlete in Service Award presented each year by Campus Contact at the Cat-Griz football game. Men's basketball player Cody Anderson was the men's recipient.

"Kelsey exemplifies the term student-athlete," said Scott Taylor, adjunct instructor of
cell biology and neuroscience. "Her studies are just as important as extra-curricular activities. She is a wonderful ambassador for the university--it is great that students such as her decide to stay in state and offer their talents to the university."

Edinger is a Billings Senior alumnus and is thankful for her family and her Montana roots.

"Being close to my family has always been important to me and I've always liked Bozeman," she said. "Academics are really important to me as well and I think MSU is a good fit that way. I'm the first person in my family to go to college and my younger sister goes here now as well."

Edinger's younger sister, Kylie, is a member of the Bobcat volleyball team.

Edinger didn't know what to expect from MSU when she first enrolled.

"I didn't know if I'd get good grades or bad grades or what college would be like," Edinger said. "I'm amazed at the difference in myself since I walked in the door at MSU. I'm much more confident and sure of myself."

"She is not satisfied with merely getting by," Taylor said. "Even when her grade is assured, she still demonstrates an intrinsic motivation to learn."

Edinger started at MSU thinking she would go on to medical school, but found physical therapy to be a better path of study.

"I wanted to be a doctor since I was four," Edinger said. "But, I decided the lifestyle wasn't right for me. I wanted something a little more active and freewheeling."

In January, Edinger will start two internships, one at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital and another at Great Northern Physical Therapy in Bozeman. She is applying to physical therapy school and plans to start her graduate work in the fall.

In addition to her academic work, Edinger is an active volunteer.

"My love for volunteering actually started with cheerleading when I was younger," she said. "I got involved in projects that my team did, or things I would do on my own and just learned to really like it. I just kind of took off on my own."

Edinger likes the variety available with volunteer work. She likes to get involved in projects. She is currently involved in Toys for Tots, transcribing notes for disabled students and volunteering at the Livingston hospital.

"I like to pop in where I am needed. It's fun just talking to people and getting involved in a bunch of different things," she said.

Edinger got involved in the Bobcat Athletics A.L.L. Challenge reading to elementary students. The A.L.L. Challenge is a department-wide program that helps student-athletes, staff and coaches get involved in community service projects in the Bozeman area.

"It started off just reading to second grade kids and then the teacher moved me to working with students with learning disabilities and that was really fun," Edinger said.

Fitting school, cheerleading and community service into her schedule is a challenging balancing act, Edinger said.

"I make a lot of lists. I look forward to what's ahead and pick what's important. Sometimes I can't do everything and communication is huge--talking to professors and coaches and asking them to help out with time conflicts." Edinger said.

What keeps her motivated?

"The community supports us in everything we do and just to be able to give back without being asked and to brighten someone's day. When I go to the nursing home, they get so excited just because you're there. That's easy to do and it really makes a difference," Edinger said.

The bottom line for Edinger is simple, "Just being able to say I helped a little. That keeps me going."

Chris Syme at 406-994-5349 or