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Fox Chapel grad Papich caps college career as Gannon's Female Student-Athlete of the Year

| Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 9:59 p.m.
Courtesy Gannon athletics
Fox Chapel graduate Jen Papich was named female student-athlete of the year at Gannon University.
Geoffrey Bolte / www.atlanticexpressions.com
Fox Chapel graduate Jen Papich was named female student-athlete of the year at Gannon University.
Courtesy of Gannon athletics
Fox Chapel graduate Jen Papich was named female student-athlete of the year at Gannon University. She is pictured with athletic director Mark Richard.

Jen Papich graduated from Fox Chapel Area High School in 2010 and received many awards for her performance on the basketball court.

She recently completed her senior year at Gannon University and the parade of awards continued both on and off the court.

A few weeks ago, she was named Gannon's Female Student-Athlete of the Year.

“All of the success I achieved was due to my coach, Jim Brunelli, and my teammates,” she said. “My teammates were my family, and we bonded as freshmen and took care of each other on and off the court. All of the success was the result of Coach Brunelli's dedication to making us better.”

Brunelli was happy to have Papich's ability on the court but also appreciated what she did in the classroom.

“Jen's contributions both on and off the court will be tough to replace,” Brunelli said. “We are really going to miss her here at Gannon. She was a coach's dream because she handled her business in the classroom, on the court and out in the community extremely well. Her work ethic in all phases of being a student-athlete was outstanding.”

Her awards for performance on the court have been plentiful.

Papich landed spots on both the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and Division II Bulletin All-America honorable-mention teams the last two seasons. She was a two-time Daktronics All-Atlantic Region second-team selection, the PSAC Western Division Athlete of the Year in 2012-13 and a three-time All-PSAC Western Division first-team honoree.

She averaged 13.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.4 blocks in 2013-14. She shot 50.9 percent from the field and 74.8 percent from the free throw line.

Papich ranked fifth among PSAC players in blocks per game, ninth in field-goal percentage and 12th in free-throw percentage. She finished her career third all-time at Gannon in free throws made (357), fourth in blocked shots (124), fifth in steals (244), seventh in rebounds (700) and sixth in points (1,534).

Her fondest memories of her basketball career at Gannon are team-oriented, though.

“Winning the Atlantic Regional in my junior year and advancing to the Elite 8 was a great achievement for all of us. That's a thrill I'll always remember. I'll leave the Gannon basketball program with no regrets. It's been a great four years.”

Her academic achievements are just as impressive as her athletic awards.

Papich was named to the PSAC Winter Top 10 for the second consecutive season with a 3.95 cumulative grade point average. A biomedical engineering major, she is a two-time Academic All-American.

One of three women's basketball student-athletes in program history to be named an Academic All-American, Papich is the second women's basketball player to receive the honor twice.

She is also a three-time Capital One Academic All-District first-team selection. In addition to being named the PSAC Champion Scholar as a junior, Papich has been named a PSAC Scholar-Athlete and received the Division II Athletics Directors Association (ADA) Academic Achievement Award every year.

And she put her nose to the grindstone as far as studying.

“The time I spent studying decreased as I got older and into more of a routine. Normally, I would spend anywhere from one to six hours a day studying, depending on how I was doing in the class.”

Now that she has graduated, she hopes to land a job doing clinical research.

“I've gotten a few offers,” she said.

She's also decided that it's time to hang up the sneakers.

“I'm thinking about taking a shot at coaching, but my playing days are over. I sustained a lot of injuries since I began playing basketball, and I really don't want to deal with any more.”

Marty Stewart is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-782-2123 or mstewart@tribweb.com.

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