Athlete given student-athlete honor, puts school first

CHICKASHA — As with most student-athletes at USAO, Dakota Webster has talent both on the court and off.

With two faculty recommendations and positive feedback from Basketball Coach Brisco McPherson, Webster was a clear choice as the second recipient of the Bill and Pat Smith Scholar-Athlete Scholarship.

“I was pretty surprised … it’s definitely an honor,” Webster said of finding out he was chosen. “I was excited. It’s definitely going to help.”

Webster is paying for college through student loans and loans from his parents, so the extra money helps lessen the burden, he said.

“Right now, I’m taking out a lot of loans, so this will make that less,” he said. “Any little bit helps.”

Speech pathology instructor Diane Holland nominated Webster for the scholarship after working with him at the 2010 Special Olympics as an Independent Study.

“He was kind, generous, supportive and encouraging to all the athletes at each event,” she wrote in her nomination. “Dakota represented USAO at the Summer Special Olympics in a manner that reflected positively on the university in general and on university athletes in particular.”

The 6-foot-5 junior forward scored 35 points for the Drovers last season after sinking 53.8 percent of his shots. McPherson describes Webster as the responsible kind of person you want to see on your team.

“He doesn’t cause any problems,” McPherson said. “He’s plays hard. He’s just a great teammate.”

In addition to his hours of basketball a week, Webster has maintained a 3.82 grade point average in biology.

“It is good to see someone that can maintain a superior academic record while pursuing an athletic program,” Webster’s professor Dr. Charles Mather wrote in his nominations. “I am very impressed with this young man.”

Despite so far being able to balance his two interests well, Webster has decided to concentrate on class during his tough junior year, which will include physics, microbiology and organic chemistry. Between extensive labs and difficult classes, Webster believes he would miss too much practice to remain part of the team during the 2010-11 season.

“I’m going to focus on my future. Hopefully, the medical field is where I’m headed,” he said. “I love basketball; I’m going to miss it a whole bunch.”

Webster does, however, have plans to return to the team his senior year.

“We’re going to miss him quite a bit,” McPherson said. “He said he still wanted to play the next year if he could.”

The scholarship is $1,000 and was originally given out to just one athlete each year. Long-time Drover supporter and USAO Administrator Bill Smith gave an additional $1,000 for a second student in 2010.

Published: Aug. 12, 2010