Campus Currents

Propulsion Techniques
It's a misconception, says Ally Yost '10, that athletics and academics don't mix

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Perry Smith photo, copyrighted
SURFING THE NET: Mechanical engineering major Ally Yost '10 plays goalie for UNH. (This photo by UNH photographer Perry Smith won a silver medal from the national CASE organization. See a larger image; this image is copyrighted by UNH Magazine; contact UNH Photo Services for a print.)

Soccer players and engineers usually use their heads for very different purposes. Then there is Allison Yost '10, who plays soccer for UNH and spent last summer as an intern at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Calif.

A goalie on the soccer field, Yost worked on the opposite problem in the lab—moving objects, rather than stopping them—as part of a team experimenting on a propulsion system that uses electronic particles instead of rocket fuel.

Yost manages to excel on both the soccer field and in the classroom. In the goal last year, she had four shutouts in 10 games, allowed an average of 0.87 goals per game and had a save percentage of .820. In the classroom, she's a mechanical engineering major with a 3.97 GPA; she tutors fellow students in calculus and physics for the athletics department. During spring break, she helped build a new house for a victim of Hurricane Katrina.

Yost says there's nothing better than hitting the soccer field after hitting the books. "My mind can be spinning from school when I get on the field, but by the end of practice, I'm usually in a pretty relaxed mood," she says. "It's a common misconception that academics and athletics don't mix. I think it's a good mix."

The trick, she says, is time management. "If you play a sport in school, it requires a certain work ethic, and achieving academic goals requires the same thing. It's where your focus lies and not just in your ability."

Yost is in good company: two-thirds of the women's soccer team—20 members—were named to the 2007 America East Fall Academic Honor Roll for having a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and 11 were named to the Commissioner's Honor Roll for having a GPA of at least 3.5. Soccer players do, it seems, use their heads for more than one purpose.

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