March 2, 2018

Lycoming College Football - Sr RB Sam Dressler earns NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship

(Photo courtesy of Lycoming Sports Information)
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – With a near-perfect GPA as a biology major and after a season as Lycoming’s starting running back, senior Sam Dressler (Danville, Pa./Riverside) has earned one of the most prestigious honors in collegiate sports, being named as one of 58 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships for the fall season, the organization announced on Friday, March 2.

Dressler, who is the second winner of the postgraduate scholarship in the Lycoming Athletic Department’s history, joining men’s soccer player Justin Walker ’14. Dressler will follow in Walker’s footsteps, enrolling at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and seek a medical degree and he will do so with a $7,500 scholarship applied toward the program.

(Photo courtesy of 
Lycoming Sports Information)
As a college varsity athlete for four years, I have learned patience in not always achieving immediate success and in dealing with several injuries,” Dressler said. “This has given me a sense of empathy for future patients and the frustrations they may feel. The summer before my senior year in high school, I had a serious fracture in my foot, requiring surgery and intensive rehabilitation. The orthopedic surgeon who saw me in clinic and then performed my surgery is the reason I now am attending medical school. He took the time to talk to me and listen to my fears and was confident and assured me that I would be able to play football my senior year.”

Dressler took an unconventional path to the scholarship, sacrificing perhaps his best sport to play his favorite one, football. He played behind two of the top 10 rushers in program history in Craig Needhammer ’15 and Blake Bowman ’17, both of whom earned Academic All-District honors themselves for three seasons before stepping into the lineup this year.

“While it’s refreshing that his work ethic made him into a good football player on a storied team, it’s also important to know what he sacrificed to earn that role,” Lycoming’s Associate Director of Athletics Joe Guistina said. “As a senior in high school, he finished fourth in the state in the javelin throw and he was talented enough that he likely would have made a national impact at the Division II or Division III level. He loved football, though, and Lycoming gave him a shot to be a factor.”

His perseverance paid off, as he finished ninth in the MAC with 466 rushing yards, fifth with four rushing touchdowns and seventh with 113 attempts. He was second on the team with 466 yards of total offense and third with 524 all-purpose yards.

“While talented, Sam spent the first three years of his career backing up two older, more experienced players at his position,” Lycoming head football coach Mike Clark said. “Those two young men accounted for four all-conference selections, one academic All-American selection and countless yards, touchdowns and school records. Many young men have walked away from our team in this situation before, but that was never an option for Sam. He prepared diligently for his opportunity and made the most of it as a senior. One of my favorite moments last fall happened when Sam burst untouched through a hole for a 36-yard touchdown again Misericordia and was mobbed of his teammates. It was clear that they were happy for him and enjoyed celebrating his success.”

Dressler was named to the Academic All-MAC football team at the end of the season for his work on the field and as a biology major. He is also a member of the Gamma Sigma Epsilon Chemistry Honor Society and he was named to the dean’s list in each of his first seven semesters at Lycoming.

Off the field, Dressler has gotten a breadth of experience thanks to the Lycoming College Biology Department. “I was one of three students chosen from my freshman biology class to assist in research in the neuroscience laboratory,” he said. “The focus of our research has been to understand signaling pathways in the cerebellum which are responsible for the growth and development of Purkinje fibers in mice. This research has been very meaningful to me, as the proper functioning of the cerebellum is imperative for coordinating motion and balance. In the laboratory, I have performed tail biopsies, mouse husbandry, polymerase chain reactions and gel electrophoresis.

“This past fall, I conducted an extended independent project utilizing fluorescent microscopy to image Purkinje neurons. I have also observed over 170 hours of physician-patient interactions in both clinic and operating room settings. I have seen the importance of clinical and surgical expertise, but the equal importance of compassion and listening to the patient and their concerns.”

Dressler has also volunteered for several special projects, helping each year with the football team’s Favors Forward Spring Cleanup while also volunteering at the Mount Carmel Celebration of Athletes. “I have also had the privilege to work with the Kensington Medical Outreach, located in inner city Philadelphia,” Dressler said. “We provided health screenings and basic education to people in their homes, which was a very eye-opening and rewarding experience.”

“Sam will make a difference in many lives as he pursues his career – of that I am sure,” Lycoming’s Faculty Athletic Representative and Associate Professor Susan K. Beidler said. “He is a proven leader who makes those around him better. He would be an outstanding representative of athletes at the Division III level and is well deserving of consideration for the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.”

The NCAA awards Postgraduate Scholarships to student-athletes who are in their final year of college athletics eligibility. Up to 175 scholarships are awarded each year for use toward an accredited graduate program. Awardees are evaluated on their academic and athletic achievement, campus involvement, community service, volunteer activities and demonstrated leadership. The program rewards college athletes whose dedication and effort reflect the characteristics needed to succeed in graduate study.

“These scholarships are one of the ways the NCAA provides a pathway to opportunity for student-athletes,” said Mattie White, chair of the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Committee and senior associate athletics director at Indiana. “These scholarships are reserved for student-athletes with distinguished college careers highlighted by outstanding achievements in academics, athletics, community service and leadership. These experiences prepare them for success in graduate study and life.”

The NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship was created in 1964 to promote and encourage postgraduate education by rewarding the Association's most accomplished student-athletes through their participation in NCAA championship and/or emerging sports. Athletics and academic achievements, as well as campus involvement, community service, volunteer activities and demonstrated leadership, are evaluated. An equitable approach is employed in reviewing each applicant's nomination form to provide opportunity to all student-athlete nominees to receive the postgraduate award, regardless of sport, division, gender or race. In maintaining the highest broad-based standards in the selection process, the program aims to reward those individuals whose dedication and effort are reflective of those characteristics necessary to succeed and thrive through postgraduate study in an accredited graduate degree program.

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