Being a student athlete comes with many challenges, but four Houghton athletes in particular have managed to excel in the classroom and on the court or field. Basketball players Maisie Pipher ‘16 and Tyler McQuaid ‘15 have each reached a significant milestone, scoring 1,000 points in their athletic career. Volleyball player Hattie Burgher ‘16 has also reached the milestone of 1,000 kills and women’s lacrosse player Jennifer Zacchigna ‘17 has scored 100 goals and counting. This means that every season these athletes have stayed consistent at a high competitive level, while also improving at the same time. It should come as no surprise that all of these athletes are just as successful in the classroom as they are in their sports, each student holding an exceptional GPA.
Pipher ended her season with 1,068 career points and was recognized as an honorable mention selection to the Empire 8 Women’s Basketball All-Conference team. Additionally, she finished second in the Empire 8 conference in rebounding and blocked shots, and was named the Empire 8 Player of the Week earlier in the season. In Highlander history, she is third all-time rebounder and second all-time in blocked shots. She is also a biology major and has served as a team captain for two years. “Maisie has been such a pivotal player in our program the last four years and has found success on the court individually, and has always kept a clear mindset on what’s most important,” said Alicia Mucher, Head Women’s Basketball Coach. “She has served as a great encourager on our team and always made notable efforts in lifting up her teammates.”
McQuaid finished his career with 1,013 points, which he achieved in his final game.
With strong performances at the end of his season, he was named the Empire 8 Men’s Basketball Player of the Week. His key role in the Highlanders’ recent wins largely influenced this honor, as did the Highlanders winning the majority of their games over the past twenty seasons and achieving the most Empire 8 wins since Houghton joined the conference four years ago. McQuaid also places an emphasis on his education. Majoring in education, he wants to teach adolescent education. “Tyler was the consummate teammate and player who would do everything and anything to help ensure the success of the team,” said former head men’s basketball coach, Andrew Hannan. “He served his teammates more the older he became; sometimes it was as an academic advisor, other times it was as a spiritual mentor, and often it was just simply as a friend.”
Anyone who came to the volleyball games this year heard the yelling from the stands “boom” whenever Burgher hit the ball. Cheering then ensued for the kill. In her last season, Burgher finished with 1,320 kills and 1,621 digs along with National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) First-Team All-Midwest Regions honors. She was a four-year starter and two-year captain who earned All-Empire 8 honors all four seasons. In addition, she ranked eighteenth in the NCCAA in kills per set, along with fourth in kills, and fifth in hitting percentage in the Empire 8 conference. Burgher, an art and English major, wants to be a journalist. “Hattie has a tremendous work ethic and a great athlete who cares a lot about her teammates and wanted her team to reach its full potential,” said Nancy Cole, head women’s volleyball coach. “As a coach it is very rewarding to see a player with that athletic ability strive to reach their full potential.”
As a junior, Zacchigna has achieved the milestone of 100 goals and is still increasing her total number of goals every game. She is recognized as a threat, not only in lacrosse games, but in soccer games as well. Last fall, she was a member of the women’s soccer team, who were the first women’s team at Houghton to win a national championship. Additionally, Zacchigna, an art and communication major, is a captain of the women’s lacrosse team. “The best thing about being a student-athlete is having a team around you facing the same challenges and supporting you both on and off the field,” said Zacchigna. “I really enjoy being a part of athletics at Houghton because of the passion for Christ that each team shares.”
Pipher, McQuaid, Burgher and Zacchigna are each humble and distinguished leaders on campus. They serve as mentors to their peers and teammates by exhibiting a strong work ethic and embodying what the Houghton sports programs stand for: excellence for the glory of God.