Feature Story

Success on the Field and in the Classroom

December 4, 2014 – by Cole Hatcher

From left, seniors Colton Bloecher, Ryan Kaplan, and Drew Pang. The OWU men’s soccer team is achieving success on and off the field.

The Ohio Wesleyan University men’s soccer team achieves as many goals in the classroom as it does on the playing field.

The cumulative GPA for the team is 3.15, with one of the student-athletes boasting a perfect 4.0 and six others sporting GPAs of 3.5 or higher.

On the field, the team’s stats are equally impressive. The Battling Bishop men’s soccer team is making its NCAA-record 37th Division III playoff appearance this season and 10th appearance in the national semifinals. This week, the Bishops are in Kansas City, Missouri, where they will battle the Tufts University Jumbos on Dec. 5. The Bishops are seeking their third national championship.

“The young men on this soccer team exemplify the DIII scholar-athlete,” says Barbara MacLeod, C.F.A., chair of Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Economics. “I have had many of them in my classes and am so very proud of them. They have really come together as a team this season, and they are also active in many other ways on campus.

“The two captains (seniors Colton Bloecher and Ryan Kaplan) are both double majors, carrying high GPAs,” continues MacLeod, OWU’s faculty representative with the athletics department. “Even better, coach Jay Martin recruits strong student-athletes each year, so we can continue to carry high expectations for them as leaders in the classroom, on the pitch, and across the community.”

Kaplan of Alliance, Ohio, is a double major in finance economics and in health and human kinetics. During his time at Ohio Wesleyan, he has served an internship with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in the Supervision, Regulation, and Credit Department.

Bloecher of Lewis Center, Ohio, is a double major in finance economics and creative writing. “When you write, you kind of find a different voice,” he says in a recent Columbus Dispatch interview.

The Battling Bishop midfielder this fall was named the NCAC Conference Offensive Player of the Year for the second time. After graduation, Bloecher intends to go to law school. He also has noticed that OWU’s focus on academics comes from the top down: “On day one, our coach told us that if there was ever a conflict between academics and athletics, academics always came first.”

Drew Pang of Dublin, Ohio, is a senior accounting major. Over the summer, he completed an internship with NiSource Inc., a Fortune 500 company engaged in natural gas transmission, storage and distribution, as well as electric generation, transmission and distribution.

“My title was consolidation accounting intern,” Pang says. “My responsibilities were to help consolidate subsidiaries into the parent company.” His duties included working on journal entries, running financial statements, and providing support for each. He also worked on a government census and audit requests.

While many of the seniors on this year’s national-tournament-bound team have economics-related majors, and nine of the 11 starters either have declared economics-related majors or voiced an intention to do so, the team’s interests are diverse. Other declared majors from OWU men’s soccer players include geography, history, journalism, psychology, and pre-medicine/pre-dentistry.

Read more about the 2014 men’s soccer players and the OWU soccer program in the online team program.

The team has been coached for 38 seasons by Martin, Ph.D., the winningest men’s collegiate soccer coach in all divisions. He earned the distinction during the 2011 championship game, when the Bishops claimed the national title with a 2-1 win over the Calvin College Knights of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The Dec. 5 semifinal game will be streamed live from Kansas City’s Swope Soccer Village by the NCAA. If the Bishops win, they will battle either the Red Dragons of the State University of New York-Oneonta or the Thunder of Wheaton College on Dec. 6 for the NCAA DIII national championship.