STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
The list of Drake athletes to recieve high academic honors keeps growing. Junior cross-country runner Cassie Aerts recieved a top Missouri Valley Conference honor last week.
The Missouri Valley Conference awarded Aerts with the Service and Leadership Award on Oct. 30. The award is given to 10 student-athletes in the conference every season, and this fall Aerts’ name topped its list.
The MVC awarded Aerts with both the MVC Commissioner’s Academic Excellence Award, and she earned a place on its honor roll each of the last two years.
“I was happy, obviously … I don’t know how to describe it. I was very honored that I got chosen for that,” she said.
Head cross-country coach Dan Hostager nominated her for the award as a result of her outstanding effort in athletics, academics and service. The winners were announced Oct. 30 and Aerts said she could not have been happier when she found out.
She has also been named to Drake’s Dean’s List and President’s List twice respectively.
Besides balancing cross-country and work in the classroom, Aerts earned the award with her dedication to service.
“This year, I haven’t done it in years past, which I wish I would’ve, but I started at Best Buddies,” Aerts said.
Best Buddies is a nonprofit that works with people with intellectual and development disabilities.
On top of that, she still volunteers with sports on campus when she is not competing.
“(I work with the) road races like the Drake Relays Road Race and then the Des Moines Marathon … Our whole team helps out also,” she said.
In addition to athletics and Best Buddies, Cassie also volunteers at her church, St. Catherine’s.
Of her many efforts at St. Kate’s, Aerts said her favorite work is leading prayer for kids in lower elementary school who attend Sunday Mass.
“We take kids … (to do a) study of their own, kid version,” she said.
She got involved with this service when the leader of the program asked the group of St. Kate’s Drake students if any of them could help the understaffed church. Aerts was one of the first to step up, and has not regretted it since.
“I really like helping with the kids,” she said.
Aerts said work with St. Kate’s is her favorite volunteer work.
In order to handle the heavy workload, Aerts said she has to constantly plan ahead.
“I make to-do lists of to-do lists, and I love my planner,” Aerts said, laughing.
She has to sit down every Sunday and plan out her week to know where she has to be and when.
“There’s no last minute planning for me, really … you have to plan in advance,” Aerts said.
Aerts said it can be stressful for her to fit all of her obligations in, sometimes, but she makes it work, earning recognition from the MVC.