April 22, 2014

Heidelberg's utility player: TE, LF, M.D.?

Derek Hug doesn't have a lot of spare time, between two sports and a pre-med major.
Heidelberg athletics photos 

During the 2013-14 academic year, Heidelberg has had a number of student-athletes who have filled up the stat sheet.

In November, Kathleen Phillips set a Heidelberg women's basketball record by scoring 40 points in a game. The next day, Cartel Brooks set an NCAA all-divisions record by rushing for 465 yards in a game against Baldwin Wallace. In March, the Heidelberg baseball team set several school records in a 37-2 win over Northland.

Sophomore Derek Hug, though, has filled up the stat sheet in a different manner.

A true Division III scholar-athlete, Hug has one major, one track, two minors, two varsity sports – and one very hectic schedule.

In fact, the Bryan, Ohio, native had a difficult time setting aside a few minutes to talk about his academic and athletic workload.

But that's just how Hug likes it.

"I love learning and I enjoy playing sports. It's tough, but I am dedicated to making it work," said Hug. "There are times that I want to go out with my friends, but I opt to stay in and work on getting ahead with my schoolwork. Instead of grabbing a nap between classes, I will do a bit more reading for my bio classes."

Hug holds a major in biology with a pre-medicine track. He is also a psychology and chemistry minor. All of these components will aid him in his quest to become a doctor.

Hug turned down an opportunity to attend Notre Dame to matriculate to Heidelberg.

"My dad didn't want to bring me to Heidelberg because he didn't want me to choose a school because of sports," reminisced Hug. "But when I visited campus, it was one of the greatest feelings I've ever had. The family atmosphere and the people here are what sold me on Heidelberg."

Nearly finished with his second year on campus, Hug has already taken many lessons from his professors.

"I've learned what it takes to be successful, and there are parallels in athletics and in the classroom," said Hug, who is looking forward to taking anatomy and physiology in the fall because it will allow him more access to Heidelberg's human cadaver lab. "In college, there is more on your plate and you've got to focus in on adjusting your life to meet all of the expectations."

As a member of the Heidelberg Honors Program, Hug took a course on sports science, which allowed him to merge two of his loves.

"My semester project was to analyze baseball swings," said Hug. "I looked at swing paths, bat speed and the physics involved with hitting a baseball."

Hug, the starting tight end for the football team and the starting left fielder for the baseball team, has enjoyed a great deal of success on the field. He attributes much of that success to football coach Mike Hallett and baseball coach Matt Palm.

"Coach Hallett and Coach Palm are ultimate competitors," said Hug, who has hauled in five career touchdowns, including three in the 2012 playoff game against Wittenberg. "They have two different personalities, but they both have a burning desire to mentor us and see us succeed, not only on the field, but in the classroom as well."

Right in line with the Division III philosophy, Hug has excelled at balancing his academic pursuits with his passion for football and baseball. Despite pursuing such a rigorous course of study, Palm and Hallett agree that Hug has the dedication necessary to be successful.

"Coach Hallett and I are of the same mindset that our athletes are here first and foremost for their academics," said Palm. "One of Derek's greatest strengths is his academics and his passion to be successful there, and I think a lot of guys on both teams can look up to his achievements."

Attending Heidelberg has allowed Hug the opportunity to learn and compete. The family atmosphere that drew him in as a high school senior has helped prepare him for growth and future endeavors. Hug has even cultivated a relationship with Heidelberg president Rob Huntington, who is penning letters of recommendation for Hug's medical internship applications.

"I always want to figure out what I can do to get better," said Hug.

Luckily for the Heidelberg University campus community, Hug's internal drive for success will likely result in more touchdowns, more home runs and another med school acceptance.

"Derek achieves at a very high level in everything he touches," concluded Hallett. "It's really cool to see."

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