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Somerset's Gaelin Elmore honored as 2014 WIAA Scholar Athlete

Somerset standout Gaelin Elmore signed a letter of intent in February to play college football at the University of Minnesota. Elmore’s strong academics made him a prized possession of many college football coaches who wanted to add his strong work ethic to their program.

Gaelin Elmore has earned an incredible reputation for his athletic prowess, starring in football and basketball at Somerset High School.

What doesn’t always get recognized is Elmore’s success in the classroom. That changed this week, when Elmore received the state’s highest student-athlete honor, being named as one of 32 WIAA Scholar Athletes for the entire state. He will be presented his award at the annual WIAA Scholar Athlete Banquet on May 4 in Wausau.

To determine the 32 finalists, four boys and four girls are selected from each of four WIAA divisions based on both athletic and academic achievement. Every year, each of the WIAA member high schools in the state is invited to nominate one boy and one girl for Scholar-Athlete honors. The program launched in 1984 to honor scholastic and athletic excellence.

The last Somerset student to earn WIAA Scholar Athlete status was Brett Kohler in 1995.

Elmore carries a 3.7 grade point average at SHS, ranking in the top 25 students in his class. He was the Middle Border Conference Player of the Year in football and basketball this year. He received multiple All-State honors in football.

In February, Elmore signed a full scholarship offer to play football at the University of Minnesota. Elmore was pursued by top football programs all over the nation because of his combination of athletic ability and his success in the classroom.

Elmore used the knowledge that college coaches want to recruit students with strong academics as his way of staying motivated in the classroom. Elmore said advice he got from his dad when he was young made him understand the importance of working hard in school.

“He always said success in school is more important than success in athletics, and if you can do both, great,” Elmore recalled.

Elmore moved several times before settling in Somerset as a freshman. Wherever he went, he maintained a high grade point average, while still working hard to improve his athletic side, as well.

Math classes are one area where Elmore shines, while science classes are his greatest challenge. There is one class subject that is especially near to his heart.

“I really love writing classes, where I get to explore my thoughts,” Elmore said. “I’m leaning toward majoring in broadcasting or something in writing. It allows me to say things in a well presented manner.”

Elmore credited English teachers Cory Lindenberg and Susan Kadlec for helping his cultivate his writing skills.

“He came to class each day with a genuine desire to get better at whatever we were working on, which was usually writing,” Lindenberg said. “Writing well is a skill that takes hard work, self reflection, and a willingness to try something uncomfortable, and Gaelin was able to rise to the challenge in every possible way. What I admire about him is that for all the pride he takes in and praise he receives athletics, he takes as much pride and receives as much praise in his academics, and he is a great person to boot.”

Elmore understands that courses in college will be more rigorous, but he is still setting an expectation to keep his grade point average between 3.0 and 3.5 in college. He said it’s a matter of self discipline and learning to manage his time.

“Especially with the controlled structure, there’s no way I shouldn’t continue to excel academically,” he said.

Nobody would accuse Elmore of acting like a big man on campus, especially when he’s dishing out their lunch every day. Elmore has worked this year as a helper in the high school kitchen, doing everything from washing dishes to serving up meals.

“I’m not ashamed of it,” Elmore said. “I don’t think a lot of people would expect me to be in a job like that.”

Elmore said he couldn’t have seen this success in high school without the help of the teaching staff. He used history classes as an example. Elmore said he never had much interest in history until he took Dennis Potter’s sociology class, which showed him the importance of knowing history. Potter said Elmore poured a full commitment into the class and all its topics.

“It’s a class that encourages students to think about issues that exist in America today. Issues like cloning, capital punishment, abortion. Gaelin was one of the people who not only stated his opinion, but backed up this opinion with valid research and solid examples. I loved having him in class,” Potter said. “Gaelin put as much effort into my class as anyone else I’ve taught.”

After Elmore receives his Scholar Athlete plaque in May, he said he plans to give the plaque to the school.

“It’s been a group effort, not just me,” Elmore said of his success in the classroom and in athletics. “It was the teachers helping and letting you know your work isn’t going unnoticed.”

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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