Griz place 52 on Academic All-Big Sky Conference team
Feb. 1, 2013
The fact-checkers are hard at work, but it's possible that Griz defensive end Derek Crittenden became the first football player in NCAA history Friday to utter the words "I think it's going to be perfect" when discussing his recent decision to add a mathematics major to his current academic route of chemistry.
Then again, Crittenden, one of 52 Montana football, soccer, volleyball and cross country student-athletes on the 2012 Fall Academic All-Big Sky Conference team that was announced recently, has always been an overachiever when it comes to his scholastic pursuits.
"I don't like to say this, but I haven't received a B since the fourth grade," says Crittenden, who saw action in all 11 games and recorded 20 tackles for the Grizzlies last fall as a redshirt freshman.
"It actually started in the fifth grade, when I started seeing what I could do. Academics just became a way of separating myself from others."
He was also a junior philosopher, whose views on life fell into the camp of those espousing the idea of the precious present. "A lot of the things I do even today are based on a thought I had when I was younger. If I died tomorrow, would I be happy with what I accomplished today?"
That's one of the reasons Crittenden, of Whitefish, Mont., long a believer that he would one day go to medical school, the perfect outlet for anyone wired in such a Type-A way, is now moving toward organic chemistry.
"I was so stuck on the medical thing for so long that it was really hard for me to change, but I don't want to dedicate my life to a profession and work for 60 years and then retire and not be able to do anything with all that money.
"I'm going to do something that I really like, but something that also allows me to enjoy life. If 10 or 15 years down the road I'm working in the summers and skiing all winter long, every single day, while living in a tent in the backcountry, that would be phenomenal."
It's just that it's hard for those of us who struggled with even high-school chemistry and entry-level college calculus to reconcile Crittenden's live-life-to-the-fullest mindset with what he's doing in the classroom. The two don't seem to be simpatico, and yet he has a 4.0 GPA while tackling the sciences.
"I've done all this work to maintain a high GPA, why wouldn't I try to keep it perfect?" he says, especially considering -- to Crittenden anyway -- that the work hardly feels burdensome. And that leads to another line for the fact-checkers.
"I can sit in the library and study organic chemistry for hours and never lose interest in it. When you're studying things you really like, the grade part of it just falls into place," he claims.
With all the talk about tough academic majors and perfect GPAs, it's easy to forget Crittenden is also a member of the Griz football team, something that in itself can at times feel like a full-time pursuit.
"You're always trying to ride that line and find your balance between school and football," he says. "Should I watch an hour of film, or should I study more calculus? You try to decide what really matters, and sometimes you just don't know, and it's stressful."
Then he adds the lament of so many student-athletes. "Take away any sort of social life and take away sleep, and it would be a lot easier to do both."
While Crittenden does not have time, when the clock is viewed in its 24-hour cycle, on his side, he does in the big picture. He was an early enrollee and is already in his fifth semester at Montana.
That early start, combined with his desire to play three more seasons and graduate in December 2015, led -- mostly out of necessity -- to the decision to add a second major.
Which is how he ended up explaining that majoring in both mathematics and chemistry would be so perfect, nonchalantly, like adding a major in math will be no tougher than walking across campus and filling out a few forms.
And academic mortals everywhere, those of us who turn into a pool of flop sweat at the mere mention of differentials, sigh.
"By picking up the math major, I can maintain at least 12 credits and keep making progress toward my degree so I'm eligible to play football in the NCAA's eyes," he says. "It will be nice because I'll be spreading out my course load over the next few years. I won't have to have those semesters where guys are taking 18, 19, 20 credits.
"It should be easier to keep my GPA high, and it will help with the football end, too."
Montana's 52 selections to the Academic All-Big Sky Conference team ranked third in the league behind Eastern Washington's 59 and Idaho State's 53.
Montana's six men's cross country honorees tied for the most in the Big Sky, the Griz soccer team's 17 were second to EWU's 18, and the football team's 18 were third behind Eastern's 21 and Idaho State's 20.
Crittenden and Griz soccer player Mary Makris, a junior marketing major, were the department's only student-athletes on the fall academic team with 4.00 cumulative GPAs.
Montana's selections to the 2012 fall Academic All-Big Sky Conference team
Football: Derek Crittenden (Fr., chemistry), Herbert Gamboa (Fr., business administration), Sam Gratton (Sr., marketing), Zach Gratton (Fr., undeclared), Gavin Hagfors (Fr., undeclared), Josh Harris (Sr., sociology), Nate Harris (Fr., sociology), Tyrone Holmes (Fr., business administration), Caleb Kidder (Fr., business administration), Chris Lider (Fr., business administration), Chase Naccarato (Fr., undeclared), Peter Nguyen (Sr., management), Trevor Rehm (So., management information systems), Steven Rominger (Jr., sociology), Shay Smithwick-Hann (So., finance), Bo Tully (Jr., marketing), Zack Wagenmann (So., communication studies), Cam Warren (Jr., accounting)
Volleyball: Paige Branstiter (Sr., health and human performance), Brooke Bray (Jr., psychology), Kortney James (Jr., biology), Natalie Jones (So., communication studies), Samantha Maas (Jr., communication studies), Megan Murphey (Jr., biology), Kayla Reno (Jr., communication studies)
Men's cross country: Matt Barker (Fr., undeclared), Jordan Collison (Jr., health and human performance), Caleb Deitz (Jr., wildlife biology), Mark Messmer (Fr., health and human performance), David Norris (So., health and human performance), Sam Willis (So., political science)
Soccer: Tyler Adair (So., undeclared), Mackenzie Akins (Fr., pre-communication studies), Lauren Costa (Sr., accounting), Maddey Frey (Jr., mathematics), Britta Hjalmarsson (Jr., biology), Kristen Hoon (Sr., biology), Shannon Lindsay (So., psychology), Mary Makris (Jr., marketing), Lauren McCreath (Sr., biology), Brooke Moody (So., psychology), Alyssa Nystrom (Jr., pharmacy), Taylor Rhodes (Fr., undeclared), Maddie Simmel (So., health and human performance), Allie Simon (So., communication studies), India Watne (Jr., communication studies), Paytyn Wheeler (So., biology), Kate Wilkins (Sr., marketing)