Bethany's Joelle Pipal (Mankato, Minn./Mankato West) has been named the recipient of the 2012 Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Scholar-Athlete Leadership Award. The award, which is given to one male and one female student-athlete from UMAC member-institutions, recognizes graduating seniors who demonstrate a healthy balance by achieving excellence in academics, leadership, and service, while participating in intercollegiate athletics.
The NCAA Division III athlete is unique among intercollegiate athletes because, at Division III institutions, student-athletes receive no financial aid for athletic participation. Such institutions emphasize the overall quality of the educational experience and the successful completion of the student’s academic program; athletic participation is an important part of that educational experience. Division III provides opportunities for student-athletes to be a part of numerous campus activities in addition to athletics, and these finalists have maximized those opportunities. The UMAC Scholar-Athlete Leadership Award is presented to students who embody what it means to be an NCAA Division III athlete. Through this award, the UMAC recognizes the role athletics plays in developing leaders by rewarding athletes' excellence in the classroom as well as service to the community. The league’s faculty athletic representatives nominate and vote on this honor.
Pipal is a communication major with a minor in studio arts. A four-year member of the Vikings’ women’s soccer team and a two-year participant on the women’s basketball team, Pipal has been a leader on the field and court since her arrival on campus as a freshman. Pipal has been named to all-conference teams in each of her four years on the soccer field, earning first team honors twice. Following Pipal’s final game last fall, she left the pitch as Vikings’ program leader in goals scored, assists, points, and game-winning goals. In the classroom, Pipal has been a member of Bethany's dean’s list every semester of her college career and is a four-time UMAC Academic All-Conference selection while also being named a College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Second Team Academic All-American. For the past two years, she has been a member of the Bethany Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and has chaired the school’s student activities council. In addition to her academic work, Pipal has spent a considerable amount of time with the Lasting Imprint Foundation, which promotes awareness and funds research for congenital heart defects. She is also a volunteer coach and trainer for Mankato United Soccer Club. The Pipal name has become a known name in photography circles, as her work has been selected for the prestigious juried annual Carnegie Art Show.
UMAC Commissioner Corey Borchardt noted, “Each year I am always impressed with the athletic, service, and leadership accomplishments of our Scholar-Athlete Leadership Award winners… the depth of Joelle’s talents are clearly visible as she not only has achieved excellence in her athletic accomplishments, but also has collected numerous recognitions for her academic achievements, and also has been recognized deservedly so for her extensive community service, volunteering, and leadership in numerous campus activities.”