Graduate student and UW-Green Bay swimmer Betsey Walkowiak is always reaching for her personal best
Walkowiak will represent the Horizon league at the NCAA’s Student-Athlete Leadership Forum in Baltimore, Maryland April 13-16.
Story by Sue Bodilly, Writer
If there is one thing Betsey Walkowiak has learned in her years as a competitive swimmer, it is in order to win the race, one first needs to dive right in.
The UW-Green Bay graduate student and member of the Green Bay swimming and diving team, Walkowiak has set her sights on one day working for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Her experiences at UW-Green Bay are helping her build a portfolio to get there.
The Butterfly and Sprint specialist sprinted through her bachelor’s degree in psychology in two years, while garnering Horizon League academic honors. She is now enrolled in UW-Green Bay’s Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology graduate program and works in the University’s Graduate Office.
“My experience at UW-Green Bay has been amazing and something I’m truly thankful for every day,” she says. “The faculty and staff here truly care about me as a student and want to see me succeed. UW-Green Bay has helped me gain exposure into collegiate athletics and how everything operates. Currently, I am on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) as the chair of Diversity and Inclusion, and I represent UW-Green Bay for the Horizon League. I would not have had all these opportunities if I went to another school and swam. Coming to UW-Green Bay was easily one of the best decisions I had ever made!”
The Clarkston, Michigan native who has been swimming competitively since the age of seven, admits to her share of struggles, noting that she was incredibly fast as a youth, but her performances plateaued in high school. She said the recruiting process and committing to UW-Green Bay reignited her drive for the sport.
But it’s her experiences out of the pool that are especially noteworthy. Student Representative to the Horizon League is a title that she carries with pride and a deep sense of responsibility.
“Being a Horizon League Representative for UW-Green Bay has given me so many opportunities to connect with other student-athletes and faculty members from different institutions within the league,” she said. “As the Representative, in the month of May I get the opportunity to travel to Indianapolis, Indiana and meet other student-athletes from different institutions. At these meetings we discuss problems/issues on our campuses/in the league and what can be done to help resolve the issues. This year our large institutive is mental health and how we can educate and help student-athletes with mental health-related issues.”
Even more impressive, Walkowiak found out recently that she will represent the Horizon League at an NCAA conference in Baltimore, Maryland. With the connections she will make, and the new experiences she will gain, it just may be the final kick she needs to reach her career goal—working for the NCAA.
“I’m truly honored and excited to represent the Horizon League and UW-Green Bay at a national level!”
This prestigious appointment—the first in 15 years for a UW-Green Bay student—came via a nomination by Green Bay’s Deputy Director of Athletics Jermaine Rolle. The Horizon League made the final selection of one female (Walkowiak) and one male to represent the 11 institutions that make up the Horizon League. Clearly, Rolle saw something special in Walkowiak from early in her academic career, and how she relates to other athletes and the Green Bay Athletics community.
“Betsey doesn’t wait to be asked to be a part of something, she happily volunteers here time,” noted Rolle. “When she was a sophomore student-athlete, she sought out a leadership position within the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Betsey could have sat back and watched more senior upperclassmen take on those roles, but I was impressed with her desire to lead as a sophomore. She cares deeply about her fellow student-athletes and about the student-athlete experience at UW-Green Bay. Betsey always brings out the best in others. In many ways, Betsey represents the best values and characteristics of a UW-Green Bay student-athlete. She is ambitious, community-centered, and selfless. Betsey aspires to have a career in college athletics to continue to positively impact student-athlete experiences.”