Leaders in their Field

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March 22, 2018

By Brett Zallek '19; as seen in the CSB/SJU Magazine Spring 2018

The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University student-athletes have proud and pioneering traditions of leading our communities to victory. And as NCAA Division III competitors, our student-athletes are able to forge a balance that allows them to excel as both students and athletes.

That same ability to balance plays out in intercollegiate club sports and two campuses full of intramural opportunities.


Claire BoatmanClaire Boatman | CSB Softball
Junior | Savage, Minnesota

One of four captains of the 2018 Saint Ben’s softball team, Claire has received the NFCA All-American Scholar Athlete Award twice, was All-MIAC Honorable Mention as a sophomore, and has been selected to the CSB/SJU Student Athlete Advisory Committee twice.

“What really sealed the deal [deciding on CSB] was when I did an overnight with one of the [now seniors] on the team,” Claire says. “The coaches truly cared about not only what happened on the field but also about [the players’] studies and what kind of people that they were helping shape us to become.”

Claire is a mathematics major and secondary education minor, and she is hoping to become a math teacher and eventually get her master’s in either athletic administration or school administration to become an athletic director or principal.


Leonard G.

Leonard Gutierrez | SJU Football
Senior | Tempe, Arizona

Leonard is a cornerback, and he’s a good one. His junior year he made the All-MIAC Second Team. This year, he was selected for both the All-MIAC First Team and the D3football.com All-West Region Third Team.

But some of his most impactful experiences with the football team didn’t even happen on the field. For three years, he was selected by coaches as a Leadership Team Captain to be a leader on and off the field. He also serves as the football team Bible study leader. “We have around 20 guys in Bible study consistently,” he says. “My most helpful experience has been striving to help my teammates grow in their faith and have good morals – walking with them and pushing them to be great men of virtue in the classroom, on the field, in church and everywhere they go and to everyone they meet.”


Sam Olson

Sam Olson | SJU Golf
Senior | Sioux Falls, South Dakota

In the last 18 years, the Saint John’s golf team has qualified for the NCAA Division III Tournament 16 times. In Sam’s four years on campus, the Johnnies have never been ranked lower than 26th nationally.

Individually, he has been named Academic All-MIAC twice, a Golf Coach Association of America Academic All-American, a Ping All Mid-West Region team member, a MIAC champion with the team and as an individual and is the 21st ranked player in the nation for Division III.

“When I came in as a freshman, we were shown how to be Johnnies and how to be athletes here by the seniors, and that’s what I’ve tried to emulate – leading by example and being the best on the golf course, in the classroom and in our community,” Sam says.

After graduation, with a major in economics and a minor in communication, Sam plans on going into golf administration and tournament management.


Niki F

Niki Fokken | CSB Basketball & Track & Field
Senior | Oronoco, Minnesota

For Niki, one sport is not enough. Through all four years at Saint Ben’s, she has competed on both the basketball and track & field teams. In basketball, she was named to the All-MIAC First-Year team, two-time All-MIAC and the 2015 USA Division III Basketball Team. In track and field, Niki was All-MIAC honorable mention for high jump (both indoor and outdoor) and javelin, and she holds the third-best mark in CSB history for javelin along with the fifth-best mark for high jump.

“One of the biggest things I’ve learned about leading is that you have to be positive – even when you’re not having a good day,” Niki says.

In addition to being able to play both sports, she appreciates the entire experience that CSB/SJU has to offer – even if that comes with a busy schedule.

“[Being at a small school] allows me to have a more rounded lifestyle, rather than focusing strictly on academics or sports,” Niki says.