Friday, September 23, 2005

Nick Hartigan: Pigskin-Hauling Historian-in-Training

Nick Hartigan of Brown University is the model of what a student-athlete should be. Hartigan was profiled today in a piece by Providence Journal Sport's columnist Jim Donaldson.
You certainly should be impressed by the numbers Nick Hartigan has racked up on the football field for Brown University.

His 1,498 rushing yards as a sophomore in 2003 are a school record. He led the nation that year with an average of 149.8 rushing yards per game. He set another school record last season by rushing for 17 touchdowns. He carried the ball 323 times in 2004, also a Brown record, and second only to Ed Marinaro of Cornell in Ivy League history, while gaining 1,263 yards.

But the number that is most impressive, the one that truly is reason to sit up, take notice and shake your head in amazement and admiration is Hartigan's 3.91 grade-point average while double-majoring in political science and history.

Not only is he a candidate for the Walter Payton Award -- the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy for Division I-AA players -- but he also is a candidate for a Rhodes Scholarship.

"I can honestly say he's one of the most impressive people I've ever met."

That's not Hartigan's football coach, Phil Estes, speaking. It's one of his political science professors, Jennifer Lawless.

In addition to advising Hartigan on his senior thesis, which he describes as being about "the alliance between Catholics and evangelical Christians in the political arena from the (John) Kennedy era to the present," and will run between 60 and 100 pages in length, Lawless also is a candidate in the state Democratic primary for the congressional seat held by Rep. James Langevin.

"Every assignment he's ever turned in has been in excellent," Lawless said. "Every deadline he's had, he has met with high quality work and enthusiasm.

"He's so well-rounded and incredibly humble. He's the kind of person you'd want in class, as a colleague, as a next-door neighbor -- the kind you'd want your daughter to marry."

Estes speaks of Hartigan in similarly glowing terms.

"He's such a good person. I'd love for my son to be just like Nick Hartigan," Estes said. "He has dedicated himself to being the best in the classroom, and the best on the field."

Hartigan truly is a student-athlete, although he unhesitatingly says that, when it's time for football, he's an athlete-student.

"I have time in my day, every day, when it's football time," he said. "When it's time to practice, or look at film, or go to meetings, there's nothing else going on for me except football. It's something I love.

"It's not just the sport that's fun, it's the guys. There's not one yard I gain that doesn't involve every guy on the offense. That creates a family atmosphere. Those relationships mean a lot to me.

"When I'm not doing those things, then it's time for me to get my schoolwork done. It's not easy. It's a lot of work. But I can do it through time-management and being able to focus. I didn't come to Brown just to play football. I came here to work hard academically and hopefully do well."

He has done exceptionally well, both academically and athletically -- in large part because he works just as hard in class as he does on the field.

"The same qualities, the same drive, that leads him to excellence on the football field," said Lawless, "is what leads him to work hard in the classroom."

"Because I have to be really intense on the football field," Hartigan said, "it's not that hard for me to be just as intense about what I'm studying. It becomes a habit."

If Hartigan doesn't go to Oxford next year on a Rhodes Scholarship -- he says he's "kind of embarrassed" that people know he's applying, because it's so difficult to win one, and the odds are against him -- he plans on going to law school.
Very impressive young man, but as to the last bit, maybe someone can get to him before we get (another) lawyer!

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