Nick Hedlesky named SCAC Character & Community Male 'Student-Athlete of the Week'

Nick Hedlesky named SCAC Character & Community Male 'Student-Athlete of the Week'

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - NICK HEDLESKY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF DALLAS, a senior from St. Louis, Mo., has been selected the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Character & Community Male Student-Athlete-of-the-Week for the week ending May 4, 2014. 

One of 52 students nationwide whom have been awarded a $10,000 scholarship from AXA Advisors, Hedlesky earned his way on to the fall 2013 SCAC Academic Honor Roll.

He is currently the university's vice president (2012-14) of the Society of Physics Students, and a member of Sigma Pi Sigma (Physics Honor Society).

Hedlesky recently presented his thesis, based on his summer research discovery of two new binary star systems. He spent spring 2012 studying-abroad in Rome, Italy, during which time he was able to visit and study in nine European countries.

He has been captain (2012-14) of the men's cross country team, captain (2011-14) of the men's track and field team, and president (2012-14) of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC).

In leading the ROTC Club, Hedlesky – an Eagle Scout and former sergeant at arms (2011-12) of Alpha Phi Omega – has organized Habitat for Humanity volunteer opportunities to partake-in with his peers.

Hedlesky's desire to keep pushing himself and others to meet and exceed personal goals for the greater good has not waned, despite bookend knee injuries in his tenure as a Crusader.

A torn quad muscle led to a trip to the doctor in his freshman campaign. It was also revealed Hedlesky had been running with damaged menisci and without an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right leg.

"The doctor did not know how I was walking, let alone competing," Hedlesky said. "I had to stop."

Hedlesky had surgery a day after finals, as he eyed summer classes in Russia.

He spent two summers (2011, 2012) studying Russian at the Critical Languages Institute, and lived in the cities of Kazan and St. Petersburg.

"It took me about a year to come back to running strongly," Hedlesky said. "Finally, the months before my junior year, I was cleared to run, and started training again. While in Russia, I was emailing coach and getting the workouts."

Cross country did not go as hoped for Hedlesky upon his return, but he kept training hard to get his confidence and legs back in to gear.

He noted that in the subsequent semester for track, head coach Matt Buchhorn really helped him find his stride.

"That season," Hedlesky said, "he switched me from long distance to a short-distance runner, and eventually, hurdles. I was not very enthused about doing hurdles at first, due to the chance of hitting my bad knee while jumping. Since I had to train by myself a lot as a result of my demanding schedule, I would go out past sundown and practice hurdles when no one was watching."

Hedlesky noted that once he got the motion down, it was just a matter of practicing folding his body around the hurdles.

"It took a while," Hedlesky said, "but every meet I watched other athletes' forms and techniques. By the end of the season, I took fourth-place at the conference's championship meet."

His time of 1:03 in the 400-meter hurdles was just one second shy of third-place and the school record.

Self-proclaimed as "stronger than ever" for the 2014 track season, Hedlesky was hit yet with another setback.

"Unfortunately, my overreaching ambition hit a wall when I tried my hand at pole-vaulting," Hedlesky said. "We were just doing some of the preparation drills for pole-vaulting, when I landed wrongly on my knee, and the ACL gave-out just three meets into the season. A short amount of time after that, I was getting my second ACL and menisci reconstruction."

This time, surgery required a harvest from the patella tendon in his left leg. With both legs out of service, Hedlesky was on crutches for a few months post-operation.

With an eye on the prize, Hedlesky knew he had to forge forward and get back into form.

"That pain was the only way to get back to my life plans of being an Army armor officer," Hedlesky said. "So, I just smiled and worked just as hard as I would in running to get back to normal as soon as possible. Now, walking mostly normally, I hope I can be jogging again in five weeks, and that the only visible major long-term consequences will be the seven extra scars on my knees."

Hedlesky is set to graduate in May 2014 from Dallas, with a Bachelor of Science in Physics. Commissioned as a second lieutenant armor officer in the United States Army, he has been awarded one of fourteen spots comprising the prestigious Saratoga Fellows Program.

The six-week fellowship, which starts May 31st in Philadelphia, Penn., is designed for newly commissioned officers to study the core moral fundamentals that it takes for a Christian military leader to do what is right in today's dangerous world. 

Hedlesky will then proceed to Fort Benning, Ga., and begin the basic officer leadership course for armor officers.

He aspires to attend Army Airborne or Ranger school, and subsequently be deployed overseas where he will serve his country to the best of his abilities.

Click here to view the SCAC's full release. 

About SCAC Character & Community: 

"The SCAC Character & Community award was created in 2009 to honor and recognize the efforts of the extraordinary student-athletes of the conference who not only excel athletically on the field, court, pool or track, but also by serving their campus and community."

2013-14 SCAC Character & Community Honorees