Cal Lutheran emphasizes being a well-rounded student by being involved in the community, questioning, learning, and trying new things. The La Habra, Calif. native has taken this and swam with it. Ben Russell is an honors student with a double Math and Physics major who engages in the local and world community through his sport and clubs and their activities.
"Not only am I pursuing what I came here for, like Physics, but I am also learning things about myself that I didn't think existed," said the soft-spoken Russell. "I did not come to Cal Lutheran solely because of water polo, but I have enjoyed continuing the sport I played in high school and doing so on an exceptionally bright team."
A year ago the men's water polo team earned the seventh highest grade point average (GPA) across the country combined between all three Divisions at 3.13.
"All of my teammates have been really successful inside the classroom with nine ACWPC All-Academic recipients and we have been building on that."
In addition to his athletic commitment, the junior is in the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), both the Math and Physics clubs and teaches English to young Chinese students.
The highly involved student-athlete tries to emphasize generosity and the greater community in whatever group he impacts.
"It has been awesome to see how involved the SAAC has been on campus. All these things we have done with the community shows that, not just me, but all the committee members are very well-rounded in how they can help the community (like Habitat for Humanity)," Russell said about the SAAC.
"It shows that CLU athletes are here to be more than just athletes, they are here to be members of the community."
The honors student is also in a leadership position on the math club this year. The physics and math clubs have joined together in 2015-16 to benefit the world community by creating solar panels and LED lights for the organization Unite to Light, a company that provides light to those in developing countries.
The double major is considering teaching with his Physics degree, but has found himself donating his time to teach a different subject.
"I am in a Chinese language class here. I have gotten the opportunity to teach English to kids from Shanghai and it was just a great experience"
With a wide grin he continued on, "Next summer I am going to be able to teach them as a full-time job, which I'm really excited about because my Chinese will be way better."
Through all of this Russell is able to manage his schedule and activities because of the resources his coaches and faculty athletic mentors provide for him.
"Coaches have moved practice times so they can happen for me because I used to be missing half my practice to go to class. All my professors are awesome when I have a game; it has been a really encouraging community for me."
In his final piece of wisdom, he recommends finding what it takes to make good balance, even if that means things need to move off your plate. For Russell, he has found what fulfills him athletically, academically, and charitably at Cal Lutheran.
Fun things to know about Ben:
Favorite Ice Cream flavor: Oreo
Prettiest place on campus: Kingsmen Park (in hammock)
Apple or PC: PC
Who would play you in a movie: Ryan Gosling
Favorite CLU memory: Getting hyped at volleyball games
CLU SAAC: http://www.clusports.com/pages/saac.php
CLU Men's Water Polo: http://www.clusports.com/mens_water_polo/
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CLU Twitter: https://twitter.com/clusports
CLU Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clusports