For the first time since 1994, one institution swept the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Pete Nevins scholar-athlete of the year awards for both men’s and women’s outdoor track. David Reinhardt is Slippery Rock’s first ever men’s track scholar-athlete of the year, and Sabrina Anderson became the second ever woman to win the award twice.
“When you get two people like that, a lot of it is luck,” Slippery Rock head track and field coach John Papa said. “They set the standard–it was magnificent what they did for our program.”
Both of these athletes have a near-inexhaustible list of accomplishments, maybe the biggest of which is that Anderson has been named one of nine finalists for the NCAA Woman of the year award.
“When we found out she was a finalist, I thought ‘yeah that’s right, there aren’t that many ladies like her,'” Papa said. “The alumni are excited about her being a finalist, she is still creating such good press for the university.”
“Everyone is so proud of me. My mom, dad, and friends have been so supportive through everything,” Anderson said. “I wouldn’t be here without them today. Every step of the way they have been there. My parents are excited for the banquet, I can’t wait to have them by my side.”
Since the inception of the award in 1991, Anderson is the first-ever finalist from Slippery Rock. Winners of the award in the past have hailed from institutions in sizes ranging from mega-universities like Notre Dame to gleaming academic programs like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, even to PSAC schools like Clarion.
“We may never know the difference something like that makes,” Papa said. “. Something like that can be the difference in someone coming here instead of Edinboro or IUP.”
Looking at Anderson’s laundry list of accomplishments makes it easy to see why she has been named a finalist for the award. Anderson graduated from SRU with an MBA graduate degree in less than four years, all while maintaining a staggering 3.91 GPA and being one of the best track and field athletes in the region, being named an All-American and also holding the PSAC record for indoor heptathlon (3,818 points); just to name a very small portion of her achievements.
The number one thing that comes to anybody’s mind after reading that would be “how on earth did she have the time for that?”
“I decided I was going to do the fast track to graduate in three years and the heptathlon training, so I knew I would have to manage my time well,” Anderson said. “I found my freshman year pretty quickly that the busier you are, the busier you stay. I just set a schedule for myself, it wasn’t easy, I stayed pretty busy.”
Not to be overshadowed, Reinhardt’s career features a lengthy list of feats as well. Reinhardt was the only student-athlete in the nation to be named an academic All-American three times. Reinhardt also completed an absurd 225 credits to complete his doctorate in physical therapy in five years whilst maintaining a 3.82 GPA and being named to the dean’s list every semester at SRU. None of this even begins to scratch the surface of his achievements in track and field, as Reinhardt won the national championship in javelin in 2014 before undergoing Tommy John surgery. Even after the surgery, Reinhardt was named to the All-Region team and received a Division II Athletics Directors Association academic achievement award.
“I don’t think we have ever had someone of Dave’s caliber, what he does as a student and achieves as an athlete, you don’t get many people like that,” Papa said.
Both of these extraordinary athletes set high goals for themselves out of the gate, which was a huge part of their success.
I remember my first meeting with coach [Bill] Jordan on my recruit visit, I told him I was going to be an all-American; he kind of giggled at me and said ‘okay let’s set some goals for your first meet,” Anderson said. “I told him I was going to hit provisional the first heptathlon I was in and that’s what I did.”
“You have to do things that are going to make you happy, so find that niche, whatever it may be, and pursue it 100 percent,” Reinhardt said. “If you don’t have a purpose for what you want to accomplish, you are going to accomplish nothing.”
Both Anderson and Reinhardt left a huge impact not only on their teammates and coaches, but the entire program moving forward.
“I hope what I passed on to my teammates is to really find your dedication and that if you want to be good at something, you have to work hard and go out and get it,” Reinhardt said. “Nothing is going to be handed to you.”
“I just want everyone to work hard and push themselves. Do the little things on the track and outside of the track. Coach Papa tells us all at the first meeting that he wants us all to not waste any of our potential,” Anderson said. “The four years passes really fast, you just need to make sure you do the little things so you have no regrets.”
Moving forward, Anderson will attend the NCAA woman of the year ceremony, held in Indianapolis on October 22nd. Several representatives from Slippery Rock will also attend the event, in addition to Anderson’s friends and family. Before the ceremony, Anderson will be honored during SRU’s home football game against California (Pa.) on September 30th by the PSAC commissioner, Steve Murray.
“Those two may be gone from our program in a sense, but their presence will never leave,” Papa said.