Dedication has its rewards for UMW's Theresa Bennett

UMW News Bureau

Theresa BennettA winner of multiple athletic awards and international volleyball experience as well as a business education major with a focus on special education, Theresa Bennett is a standout athlete and student.

A senior at the University of Montana Western, Bennett maintains exemplary athletic and academic performance despite her busy schedule.

“She’s one of those people who manages to do it all, school, work, and volleyball,” Montana Western’s head volleyball coach Katie Howells states.

Bennett, whose hometown is Dillon, Mont., attended the University of Montana in Missoula during her freshman year of college.

“I had the chance to play in Missoula and I wanted to try it,” Bennett explains. “I didn't want to look back and wonder what could have happened.”

At the end of Bennett’s freshman year, she decided to transfer to Montana Western.

“I could have stayed in Missoula, but I chose to come back to Dillon,” Bennett states. “It was the best choice for me.”

The decision to return to her hometown has worked well for Bennett. In 2008, during her first academic year at Montana Western, Bennett won Frontier Conference Newcomer of the Year for volleyball.

“She’s a very caring, selfless person,” Katie Howells says of Bennett. “She goes above and beyond in every way she can. If I set a meeting for seven, she is there at 6:45. If something is optional, she does it any anyway without being pushed or asked. For her, it’s about family, team, community, and hard work.”

Bennett’s hard work and dedication have continued to pay off. During her junior year she was Academic All-American. To receive Academic All-American a student must be nominated, be a junior or above, have attended the nominating institution for one academic year, and carry a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.5. At the time Bennett received the award she had a GPA of 3.95.

“Winning Academic All-American was very cool,” Bennett recalls. “I work hard on my grades, so it’s nice to see a result for balancing everything.”

More recently, Bennett was selected as a member of the USA Athletes International (USAAI) team and competed in the Bajan Goodwill Series from May 31 through June 7, 2010 in Barbados. According to USAAI, the USA team was composed of select athletes from across the nation who were recommended to the team based on their athletic ability and their ability to represent their country, school and hometown in a positive manner.

Bennett had to raise the money to attend herself, but says the experience was worth it.

“It was amazing,” Bennett says. “It’s a beautiful place. We played the national volleyball team four times and won three of those games. They had ‘Island Time’ so we were busy, but it was very relaxed.”

After a busy summer of traveling, Bennett’s full schedule shows no signs of slowing down for the fall 2010 semester.

“I work, I go to school, I go to practice, I do homework, and then I do it all over gain,” she says. “When you do it every day you don’t really think about it. You learn to manage your time and make it all work.”

Having experienced both semester classes and Experience One block scheduling, Bennett appreciates the time block classes give her.

“I really prefer block classes,” she explains. “I can do more in a day.”

Although she does have an idea of where she wants to be in the future, Bennett doesn’t want to limit herself with too narrow of a focus.

“I have looked into playing volleyball after I graduate, but we’ll  have to see when the time comes,” Bennett says. “For now, I know I want to teach somewhere in Montana and hopefully be a coach someday.”

The Bulldog volleyball team will be raising breast cancer awareness as they host rival Montana Tech on Thursday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. in the Keltz Arena of the UMW campus.

Attendees wearing pink will get in free and all others will be admitted by making a donation to the Side-Out Foundation. All money raised at the event will go to breast cancer awareness and the Side-Out Foundation.

Established in 2004, the Side-Out Foundation was established to unite efforts of volleyball players and coaches in “furthering breast cancer awareness, education and patient services.”