Some students are top athletes. Others are great students or great community members.
And once in a while, they’re all three, just like USAO soccer stars Destiny Wilson and Aiden Ashmore.
Each year, two top USAO student athletes are chosen as recipients of the exclusive Bill and Pat Smith Scholar-Athlete Award, but rarely are they both chosen from the same program.
Wilson, a December graduate, and Ashmore, a chemistry senior, were presented with their awards on Tuesday.
“The fact that both players played for me is lucky on my part,” Head Coach Jimmy Hampton said. “These are two great young people, and I don’t know that I necessarily changed their lives but they changed mine every day I got to coach them.”
The Bill and Pat Smith Scholar-Athlete Award is presented to one male and one female athlete each year. According to the nomination guidelines, the student must be a senior graduating the academic year the award is presented and must have lettered in the sport at least two seasons.
“Nominees must uphold high ideals in the categories of scholarship, citizenship and athletic competition,” the nomination form states. “Recipient must have represented the University well in all aspects of student life. Recipient should be an individual whose life is reflective of the USAO creed: Physical, Spiritual, Mental, Social.”
Hampton, who nominated both athletes, said they exhibit the qualities coaches look for in all their collegiate athletes.
“They not only met all the requirements needed to be a part of a very successful soccer team but were able to balance their academics properly,” he said. “They not only excelled on the playing field but also in the classroom.”
Wilson played goalkeeper for the Drovers during her four years on the team. The business student maintained a GPA of 3.13 while keeping up with a demanding athletic program.
Wilson, of Yukon, said she was surprised but excited when she found out she was this year’s female recipient.
She said it wasn’t always easy to balance academics and athletics during her time at USAO.
“Sometimes it was difficult, but for the most part the team and the coaches helped me out,” she said. “And we had a lot of fun. It made it worth it, no matter how hard it was.”
Wilson recorded 329 saves in her four seasons at USAO, which is third in Drover history.
“I enjoyed my time there,” she said of USAO. “It’s a great school, and I loved the (soccer) program.”
Wilson got a job as a municipality clerk at CMR Claims in Oklahoma City shortly after graduating in December.
Wilson is the daughter of Pamela Firth and Richard Montgomery.
Aiden Ashmore spent five years on Hampton’s team, including the one year he redshirted. Last season, Ashmore was moved to defender, a position he excelled in.
“I’m very excited and honored because it’s just one student to win it each year,” he said of the award. “In relation to balancing sports and academics, it’s hard to do in science.”
Ashmore is majoring in chemistry and had a cumulative GPA of 3.26 at the end of the last trimester. He is expected to graduate later this month.
Ashmore spent some time on the bench early in his USAO career, but it didn’t deter him from continuing to push hard and try his best.
“It taught me a lot about myself — mostly in mental toughness,” he said. “It finally paid off. It was the one thing I was really happy about.”
After graduation, Ashmore said he has two options. Ashmore has applied for graduate school at Oklahoma State University and took the Air Force Officer Qualifier test and may join the Air Force as a scientist.
Ashmore is the son of Thea and Roy Ashmore, of Moore.
A committee chose this year’s award recipients out of a pool of student-athletes, nominated from both coaches and professors.
“Both of these students were distinguished by their excellent academic records and their excellent representation of the college on the athletic field,” said Dr. Sanders Huguenin, vice president of Academic Affairs and chair of the committee that chose the recipients.
Hampton said he has confidence in the bright futures for both the student-athletes he nominated.
“I’m very lucky to have had the privilege of coaching these two and will always be grateful for having them on our team the last four years,” Hampton said. “Destiny and Aiden will be successful in every aspect of their life because they do right each and every day, not just when people are watching. It’s just been a pleasure!"