A Tradition of Achievement
Two More SPU Athletes Receive NCAA Post-Grad Scholarships
Basketball player Geoffrey Ping and gymnast Gina Bolenbaugh have won a different kind of race: Their athletic and academic accomplishments have earned them prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. For both 1997 graduates, the scholarships top off impressive careers at Seattle Pacific University.
In addition to setting five SPU three-point shooting records and being named Academic All-American, Ping recently graduated magna cum laude with a degree in biology. After taking next year off to gain clinical experience, he plans to study sports medicine, preferably at the University of Washington School of Medicine. His accomplishments are largely due to his own persistence.
"He's kind of a self-made player," says head basketball coach Ken Bone. "He's not your typical raw athlete." In fact, Ping wasn't recruited by SPU, but entered the basketball program as a walk-on. "I saw it as a challenge," says Ping, who ignored advice from high school coaches and friends to first play at the junior college level.
Ping's ability to rack up points at the three-point range earned him an important role on the team, and he became one of the Falcons' leading scorers during his last two years. "He was one of the greatest student-athletes I've coached in 15 years," says Bone.
Bolenbaugh was equally successful in her sport, but nearly skipped college gymnastics altogether. Training since age 3, Bolenbaugh was ready to quit gymnastics after high school. The chance to attend a Christian university with a strong gymnastics program changed her mind. "I think she found that she had so much more to give and learn herself -- and also to give to a team," says gymnastics coach Laurel Tindall.
By the time she graduated, not only had Bolenbaugh helped lead the Falcons to the USA Gymnastics National Collegiate Championship, but she also accumulated impressive personal stats: a four-time All-American, two-time Academic All-American and 1996 national champion in the floor exercise.
Majoring in religious studies and Christian education, Bolenbaugh graduated cum laude. She and her husband, Jon, are now in Southern California, where she will enter Pasadena's Fuller Seminary this fall to work toward a master's degree in theology with an emphasis in biblical studies.
The drive and accomplishments of these student-athletes convinced Wes Lingren, professor of chemistry and faculty athletic representative, to nominate them for NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. The NCAA awards 174 postgraduate scholarships to seniors going on to graduate school. Each one-time $5,000 award is funded primarily by proceeds from the Final Four basketball championship.
Spreading these scholarships between three divisions and all sports, the NCAA allots 99 of them to athletes in Division II and III. Division II includes SPU and about 200 other schools. With competition tight, explains Lingren, academics always tip the scale in an athlete's favor. That didn't pose a problem for Ping and Bolenbaugh. Ping earned a 3.87 GPA; Bolenbaugh earned a 3.75 GPA.
Past NCAA Post-Grad
Since 1981, SPU athletes have earned seven NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. "It's my feeling, backed by some unofficial stats, that we rank in the top 10 percent of scholarship winners in Division II," says Wes Lingren, professor of chemistry and faculty athletic representative since 1970. Here's how the five winners prior to Geoffrey Ping and Gina Bolenbaugh have used their awards:
Terry McGill, 1981
A member of the 1978 SPU national championship soccer team, Terry McGill chose to attend Fuller Theological Seminary. After his involvement in sports ministries led him away from master's degree studies in theology, he founded Sister Schools in 1988. He now organizes school-supply drives which have resulted in Puget Sound students sending approximately 100,000 pounds of pencils, paper and other school supplies to children in Uganda. He and his wife, Melissa Harris McGill '82, have two children and live in Seattle.
Doug Backous, 1984
Captain of the 1983 Falcon national championship soccer team, Doug Backous went on to study at the University of Washington School of Medicine. After graduating, he completed a residency in otolaryngology (head and neck surgery) at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Now finishing a post-doctoral stint at Johns Hopkins, Backous will return to Seattle with his wife, Julie Lindberg Backous '86, and their two children. Once here, he will be the neurotologist and skull base surgeon at Virginia Mason Medical Center.
Bente Moe, 1990
An Olympic marathoner for Norway in 1984 and 1988, Bente Moe was a five-time NCAA champion in track (5,000 and 10,000 meters) and cross country at SPU. After earning a bachelor's degree in computer science, she earned a master's degree in biostatistics at the University of Washington. Afterwards, Moe returned to Norway and became a statistician on clinical trials for Glaxo Pharmaceutical. Now with Gallup-Norway, Moe works in marketing research for polls in Norway and other European countries. She lives in Oslo.
Ted Hamlin, 1992
A former member of SPU's track and cross country team, Hamlin still holds the record in the 800 meters. After majoring in electrical engineering, he earned a master of science degree in electrical engineering at the University of Washington. Upon finishing, Hamlin relocated to Hillsboro, Oregon, where he was a software engineer at Intel Corporation. Now a development engineer at Extended Systems in Boise, Idaho, Hamlin and his wife, Heidi Bomengen Hamlin '93, have a baby daughter.
Eden Judd Miller, 1993
A three-time All-American in the javelin and three times in the top 10 in the heptathalon, biology major Eden Judd enrolled at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Missouri. After graduating this spring, she is entering a residency program at Cuyahoga Falls Hospital in Ohio. Over the next two to four years, Miller will explore her options in sports medicine or dermatology. She and her husband, Kevin Miller, a family practice physician, hope to relocate to the Pacific Northwest after her residency.