Beth LeQue named area Sportswoman of the YearYellowjacket athlete overcame illness, injuries to excel in the classroom and on the soccer field
The following is another “Have Fun or Get Out of the Way” column by Don Leighton and Mike Granlund and their alter egos, Lance Boyle and Billy Pirkola, which runs occasionally in the Superior Telegram.
Television sports commentators often throw the terms “great,” “incredible,” and “unbelievable” around like everyday words used in casual conversation. Such words should be reserved for a truly rare occasion: something or someone to be celebrated, cherished and remembering for a long time.
We cannot allow ourselves to be jaded and accept mediocrity as exceptional.
With these thoughts in mind, let’s learn about the Have Fun or Get Out of the Way 2009 Sportswoman of the Year, an inspirational young lady to whom all the above adjectives can truly refer.
Beth LeQue, 21, is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Superior and plays for the Yellowjacket soccer team. The River Falls native played volleyball and soccer in high school, and as a 13-year-old was a nationally ranked gymnast.
LeQue comes from a family of athletes. When talking about her family, LeQue’s face shows the love and respect she has for them. She is proud of her family and would rather talk about them than herself.
Her older brothers, Matt and Tom, played football; her father, Roger, played football and basketball; and her mother, Ann, was a cheerleader in Blair, Wis., where she met Roger LeQue in high school. Beth LeQue’s grandmother, who is 76, has two new hips and two new knees, but rides a bike every day and still jogs when she wants to.
“She is the toughest person I have ever met,” LeQue said.
LeQue has also earned a reputation for her toughness.
During her high school athletic career, she endured six concussions and broke her neck during her senior year. She is still very close to her high school soccer coach, Mike Babler, who she considers her second father.
“She is one of the most compassionate individuals that I have ever met in anything that she does whether it be her studies, athletics, work, volunteering or just being your friend,” Babler said. “There are tough kids and then there is Beth. She always felt a sense of team, and she was always fearful that I would be disappointed if she couldn’t play or practice. Not once did she ever disappoint me or her teammates. What an honor it is to know that she considers me her second father.”
LeQue graduated from River Falls High School in 2006. After graduation, she chose to attend UWS because of the beauty of the campus and the friendly people she met. While at Superior, LeQue decided soccer would be her sport of choice.
Her plans were derailed during her freshman year when she required multiple surgeries for very serious and potentially life threatening health issues.
Her attitude and toughness enabled her to make it through that emotionally and physically draining year while still excelling academically.
“She measures her success by how the people around her succeed,” said Dave Kroll, athletic trainer at UWS. “In the UWS Hall of Fame, a category named after Dr. Lydia Thering honors those student-athletes who may not have been on championship teams or had impressive statistics but became very successful in their chosen profession after college. Beth LeQue could very well be one of those individuals.”
LeQue is majoring in exercise science/pre-physical therapy with a minor in French. She has a 3.85 GPA and is a three-time member of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Scholastic Honor roll. She plans to attend UCLA next year to attain the educational goals she has set.
At the same time, LeQue played collegiate soccer for the Yellowjackets, and she played the 2009 season with a broken elbow.
How’s that for dedication and effort?
This season, LeQue was honored by the WIAC as the 2009 Judy Kruckman Scholar-Athlete for women’s soccer. She is the first female soccer player at UWS to receive this award.
According to the UWS Web site, the Kruckman award is presented to the “most outstanding individual from each conference sport during the year who exhibits the greatest combination of performance and achievement in academics, athletics and leadership.”
LeQue was also named to the WIAC All-Sportsmanship Team, which honors student-athletes who exemplify honor, courage, leadership and all-around character, both on and off the soccer field.
“Beth is always upbeat and everyone looks up to her, not only on the soccer field, but in school,” said Jennifer Bucci, a teammate of LeQue’s.
UWS head women’s soccer coach Melissa Nelmark has coached LeQue for the past two seasons and has the highest of praise.
“To have Beth LeQue named as this year’s WIAC Judy Kruckman Scholar-Athlete award winner is very exciting for everyone at UWS,” Nelmark said. “It is an honor of which she is very deserving and can be attributed to her relentless desire to succeed both in the classroom and on the soccer field. Beth exemplifies the idea of a scholar-athlete because of her outstanding character and work ethic. She is the one who professors want to have as a student, coaches and employers want to have on their teams, and people want to be able to call their friend.
“Our team would not have been the same this season without Beth and her leadership to set an example for the other players. It is because of her and the incredible qualities she brings to life that will advance the soccer program at UWS. Her enthusiasm, unselfishness, modesty, inspiration, intelligence and desire to succeed at all she does will ensure her of a very bright future. Beth has persevered through a lot of obstacles, including playing with a broken elbow for a majority of the 2009 season. She is an incredible human being.”
Considering what LeQue has endured, with the concussions, broken arm, surgeries and upcoming ACL and MCL surgery on her left knee, she has the mindset that nothing can stop her. Looking at what she has accomplished while dealing with serious health issues, she is one strong and incredibly focused person.
In the words of Coach Nelmark, “The world is going to be a better place because of her efforts.” We concur.
Thank you, Beth, for being the inspirational leader you are.
Good luck in life, and welcome to the Lance and Billy Hall of Fame as our 2009 Sportswoman of the Year!
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