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Student-Athletes Combine Sports, Studio Art

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When Dartmouth student-athletes board the bus for away competitions they're always weighted down by backpacks bulging with books and laptops. However, bringing work on the road is more challenging for studio art students. "I've done drawing projects on road trips, but I can't really bring a painting or sculpture with me," says Julia Zak '10, co-captain of the women's tennis team. Dartmouth Life spoke with three varsity athletes to find out how they balance their studies in studio art with their athletic commitments.

Golfer Katie Gulemi '11

Katie GulemiKatie Gulemi '11 (Photo by David Silverman)
As the daughter of an art teacher, it's not surprising that Katie Gulemi '11 modified her engineering major with studio art. But what makes this academic combination unusual is that Gulemi also balances it with varsity golf.

"Juggling art and engineering is tough because you need a solid chunk of time to do both," says Gulemi, who is a member of Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority and is involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Athletes United, the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, and the Committee on Standards. "I can't say, ‘Oh, I guess I'll go paint this afternoon,' because that's when I have golf. But even though there are some late nights, I find that playing a sport helps me structure my time better."

Gulemi artKatie Gulemi '11's painting Lady in Waiting.

According to Head Golf Coach Kevin Gibson, Gulemi, the team's captain, is a role model for her teammates. "She's really organized and a very hard worker on the golf course," he says of his player, who was Dartmouth's top finisher at four tournaments last fall.

Gulemi, who studied Drawing I with legendary artist Ben Frank Moss, the George Frederick Jewett Professor of Studio Art, and Painting I with Visiting Professor Jennifer Caine, says that art is a good complement to "all the math and science. I love going from engineering to art because I'm definitely a design person. And art is such a great release for engineering and golf. But especially for golf, because even though it's a team sport, technically you're alone and it can get very stressful. So for me, all three of these things strike the perfect balance."

Football Player Max Heiges '10

max heigesMax Heiges '10 (Photo by David Silverman)

When Max Heiges '10 visited Dartmouth as a football recruit, Head Coach Buddy Teevens '79 arranged for him to meet Studio Art Professor John Kemp Lee. Now the studio art major will be spending much of his senior year studying with the sculptor. "Professor Kemp Lee is a great artist and problem-solver, and I'm looking forward to doing a lot of exploring with him on my senior seminar project," says Heiges, a backup quarterback and punter for the Big Green.

Max Heiges art"I love sculpture, but I also enjoy painting," says Max Heiges '10. "I'm intrigued by the idea of painting on the sculpture." (Photo by Bonnie Barber)
Despite having taken classes at the Marin School of Art as a high school student, the Tiburon, Calif., native planned to major in economics at Dartmouth. But taking Sculpture I with Professor Brenda Garand changed his mind that first term. "I love working with my hands, and the assignments were really interesting," says Heiges. "And as I took more studio art classes, I liked that the professors really push you and that you get hands-on teaching. That's one of the benefits of a small school like Dartmouth."

When the 2009 fall football season concludes, a chapter will close in Heiges' life. "I've been playing football since I was 9 years old, and after this fall I'm done, which is hard to believe," says Heiges, who is also a member of Gamma Delta Chi fraternity and is forming a transcendental meditation club. "Coach Teevens has been so supportive of my art, and I'll miss football. But after closing the studio every night for the last three years because I could only work on art projects after practice, I'm really excited at the thought of being in there as much as I want and just being able to dig in."

Tennis Player Julia Zak '10

Julia ZakJulia Zak '10 (Photo by Mark Washburn)
When Julia Zak '10 tried out for women's tennis in 2006, she was one of the rare walk-ons to make the team. "Not only did she have the necessary skill level, but it was apparent from day one that Julia's remarkable work ethic inspired her teammates," says Head Coach Bob Dallis of Zak, who clinched the doubles point for Dartmouth against Penn and Columbia last spring.

That same work ethic is evident in the classroom. A double major in economics and studio art, Zak has twice been named an Intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar Athlete for achieving a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. She also volunteers with Big Green Readers and is a member of Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority, where she's organized two charity art shows.

"I feel like everyone at Dartmouth has a lot on their plate and you just go out and do it," says Zak, a native of Bernardsville, N.J. "There are definitely some late nights because studio art projects take a lot of time. But I like putting on my iPod in the studio and doing something creative."

Julia Zak artA print by women's tennis co-captain Julia Zak '10.

Zak hadn't planned to study studio art when she entered Dartmouth, but was hooked after Drawing I. "I kept taking more classes because the professors were so great and the classes are super-small," Zak says. "And it's taught me to think in a different way. You learn to accept things and look at things in a new light, and how something can be improved by making a few changes or trying something new."


Last Updated: 1/12/10