Student-Athlete Strong: Courtney Akerley

Student-athlete Courtney Akerley ‘19 (CLAS) meets with her academic adviser, Lindsay Darcy, in Hall Dorm. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)
'It is always made clear that we are students first and athletes second,' says high-achieving student-athlete Courtney Akerley '19 (CLAS) of the Women's Cross Country team, shown here with her academic adviser, Lindsay Darcy. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

UConn’s student-athletes are often lauded for their on-field or on-court achievements, but there’s an equally important – often unseen – dimension to the student-athlete. UConn Today’s Student-Athlete Strong series highlights the academic prowess of selected high-achieving student-athletes and provides an inside look at their lives beyond their sport.

Courtney Akerley ’19 (CLAS)

Hometown and high school: Tolland, Connecticut; Tolland High School

Sport: Women’s Cross Country

Area of study: Communication

Anticipated graduation: May 2019

What are some of your academic achievements at UConn?
I have made the Dean’s List all of my academic years of college. And I have been accepted into the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Communications. I hope to have a career in public relations, more specifically writing for major companies or businesses.

What is your favorite class? Why?
My favorite class so far has been Creative Writing with Professor Bruce Cohen, because he was an awesome teacher and because another passion of mine is writing.

You were once quoted in the media, as saying, ‘Pain is temporary; pride is forever.’ Has that taken on a different meaning for you since you began competing as a Husky?
I’d say the meaning hasn’t changed, however, the pride I feel has only amplified since becoming a Husky. Being a member of UConn Athletics and the Cross Country/Track and Field team is such a privilege, and I feel extremely lucky to be a part of such an accomplished program.

Cross-country and track athletes are often viewed as sports for individual competition, yet there is also a wider competition between teams in high school and college. How do you balance your individual goals with the team’s goals?
Something I’ve learned from running on a team is that you can have your individual goals to strive for, but it’s your teammates pushing you every day in practice and challenging you that will enable you to achieve individual goals. Running is usually viewed as an individual sport, but I know I would not be where I am today without my teammates, both past and present.

As a student and an athlete, you are presented with many challenges. What enables you to overcome those challenges and achieve success in both areas?
I am able to achieve success through the help and guidance of my coach and teammates, constant support and love from my family, and a strong and positive mindset.

In what ways do the coaching-staff support you in pursuing academic success?
Our coaching staff is amazing in making sure we are equipped and prepared for all of our academic responsibilities. It is always made clear that we are students first and athletes second.

Who have you met at UConn who has already affected your future? How have they helped you?
Someone I’ve met at UConn who has affected my athletic experience is my former teammate, Emily Durgin. I had the opportunity to train with her last spring, and I learned so much about training and work ethic from her. She’s now running professionally for the New Balance team in Boston.

What’s next for you?
We are just beginning our indoor track season now, which is pretty exciting. We have a great group of talent, and are looking to win another conference title. We’re just coming off a championship title in cross country, so there’s a lot of motivation to continue the streak.