Arcadia’s Elite Physical Therapy Program Also Attracts Top Student-Athletes

By Purnell T. Cropper | March 27, 2012

The combination of being able to play college sports while preparing for one of the most elite Physical Therapy doctoral programs in the nation has been a dream come true for many student-athletes at Arcadia University, where the PT program continues to rank among the nation’s top 15 programs.

Just as Arcadia’s PT program competes with some of the top medical schools in the nation, Arcadia student-athletes compete in a top conference—the MAC—known for producing NCAA Division III champs.

“Through the years, we have had a steady stream of amazing Arcadia athletes become physical therapists through our program, and they have been terrific PT students,” says Dr. Rebecca Craik , Professor and Chair of Physical Therapy, who is proud of the strong relationship between the undergraduate athletics and academic programs and the PT program. U.S. News & World Report ranks Arcadia PT program 14th in the nation. Arcadia University is the only top-ranked institution that is not a primary research institution.

“We are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Physical Therapy program, established in 1982 with the assistance of Dr. E. Jane Carlin ’40  former PT Director at the School of Allied Medical Professions at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Carlin was a dedicated alumna and longtime Trustee at her alma mater Beaver College (now Arcadia University),” notes President Carl (Tobey) Oxholm III. Carlin is considered one of the early leaders of the physical therapy profession, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt was one of her patients.

“Arcadia’s program honors its distinguished founding by maintaining high academic standards. Our faculty members are not only exceptional educators, practitioners and scholars, but also leading researchers who attract major awards and grants,” notes President Oxholm, “Our athletics program also some of the highest academic achievements in our conference. Last year a record 72 Arcadia student-athletes were honored for academic achievement, and this fall both the men’s and women’s soccer teams earned the National Soccer Coaches Association of America College Team Academic Award.”

Of the 56 students admitted to Arcadia’s PT program in 2011, 10 earned their bachelor’s degrees at Arcadia University. Six of those students were also athletes, earning high accolades for their both their athletic and scholastic achievements. And many of them also are serving as graduate assistant coaches.

A four-year star athlete for Women’s Lacrosse, Kelly Donahue led the team during one of its best overall seasons in 2009. The Biology and Public Health major was recognized by as Scholar-Athlete of the Week in April 2011, a well-earned tribute for her three-time MAC Academic Honor Roll achievement. Additionally, Donahue was named a MAC Women’s Lacrosse 2011 All-Conference Honorable Mention athlete, showcasing her well-rounded devotion to athletic championship and academic excellence. Donahue studied abroad in Ireland in Fall 2009 and has been on the Dean’s List in each academic term.

Donahue is now Graduate Assistant Coach for the Women’s Lacrosse Team, and she proudly invited her parents to come out and watch her coaching debut at the team’s first home game, noted her father, Mike Donahue.

Holly Hamilton, a former Women’s Soccer and Swimming athlete, also is bringing her leadership to the field. She reconnected with the Women’s Soccer team as a Graduate Assistant Coach and strives to be a role model for the student-athletes.

A Dean’s List student, three-time MAC Academic Honor Roll awardee, and a member of the 2010-11 MAC Women’s Soccer Sportsmanship Team, Hamilton gleams with pride for Arcadia athletics and education. In her time as an undergraduate, the Women’s Soccer team combined for a 53-18-9 overall record, reaching post-season play four years in a row and contending for the conference championship three of those years. A Biology and Pre-Physical Therapy major, Hamilton studied in England in Spring 2009.

Teammate Janelle Jablonski also earned admittance into Arcadia’s Fall PT Class, working hard in the classroom to earn that starting role. In addition to committing to an undergraduate double major and pre-PT program, earning Dean’s List each semester, Jablonski started for Women’s Soccer all four years of intercollegiate play and was recognized as the fourth-highest career scorer in the program’s history. She was a three-time MAC Academic Honor Roll student, a four-time All Conference performer, and a member of the 2010 NSCAA Academic Team Award. She too took her studies abroad, taking a semester in Australia in Spring 2009.

Jason Sharpe’s pathway to the PT program included four years in the pool, stroking his way to the MAC swimming championships. A Psychology major, Sharpe was a four-year Men’s Swimmer and annual qualifier and participant in the MAC Swim Championships. In 2010, he was a member of the MAC Men’s Swimming Sportsmanship Team.

Sharp was Arcadia University’s Most Valuable Senior Athlete in 2010—one of four athletes named for outstanding career-long performance in athletics, academic achievement, campus involvement, leadership and sportsmanship. Also a Dean’s List student, Sharpe in his role as a Graduate Assistant Coach encourages student-athletes to engage with the campus community, commit to academic success, and perform to their highest athletic potential.

Amanda Ricci a one-year swimmer and three year team manager was also a member of Psi Chi (National Honor Society for Psychology Students), Phi Kappa Phi and a Dean’s List Student every semester at Arcadia. Making some of her closest friends with Arcadia swimmers, Ricci travelled with the team to show her support and reconnect with her athletic roots.

“I saw several friends and teammates break their own personal records and qualify for MACs,” said Ricci adding, “I was glad that I was there to encourage them and cheer them on.  The swim team at Arcadia was a family, and it showed.”

With a career total of 81 wins and two trips to the MAC-Commonwealth Championships for Women’s Softball, Kellie Reese earned her accomplishments in the classroom and on the softball diamond. During her tenure with the team, Reese was recognized as a four-time NFCA Academic All American and three-time MAC Academic Honor Roll recipient. A Psychology and Pre-PT major, Reese was a Dean’s List student during each semester as an undergraduate, a member and the 2010-11 President of Psi Chi, and the recipient of the 2010-11 Arcadia University Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year award for her undisputed dedication to winning games and staying strong scholastically.

Read more about undergraduate preparation for the Arcadia University PT program, including the 4+D.P.T. Assured Admission program and the 3+ D.P.T. Accelerated program.