Story and Photos by Brett Nelius
The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Texas Tech University is not really known for having an abundance of student athletes, but in actuality, CASNR has the athletic cream of the crop.
From former starting linemen to record setting shot put throwers, CASNR has an increasing number of athletes.
They must balance school work, practice, training, volunteer work and traveling every week, all while maintaining a healthy GPA.
These athletes may not always be recognized in the college, but they are respected student athletes both on and off the field.
Patience Knight, a senior double majoring in range management and wildlife management from San Antonio, Texas, has had her fair share of challenges while attending Tech.
Knight was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma her sophomore year and still maintained a 3.94 GPA. She even came back and competed after the fact.
Knight was recruited to compete on the track team, and Tech had to fight off other schools in the Big 12 as well as other conference schools to win Knight over. However, at the end of the recruiting war, Knight insisted she was drawn to Tech and has not looked back since.
Knight still holds both the indoor and outdoor track and field shot put records at Tech with a throw recorded at 57 feet 11 inches.
She has had the opportunity to compete in over eight states and despite missing classes due to travel, she has a great relationship with her professors, especially in CASNR.
“Everyone is very laid back in the college,” she said. “As long as you get your notes for travel to the professors on time and put forth the effort, you’re fine.”
“Time is an issue when you’re an athlete,” Knight explains. “You have to get used to starting projects earlier and spending more time studying because you have to practice and travel, and it all requires your focus.”
Taylor Lytle, a junior animal science major from Las Cruces, N.M., has many things in common with Knight.
She is currently on the soccer team and chose Tech over schools like Nevada, Arizona and the University of New Mexico because she wanted to make an impact.
Lytle starts in the attacking mid position while balancing a full course load and practice. In the past, she has had to spend seven days of a two-week period on the road, and some of those days are during the school week.
However, it takes more than that to slow Lytle down. Her biggest hurdle was when she tore her ACL, forcing her to redshirt her freshman year.
“It took me six months to get over that and even more to rebuild all the muscle.”
Lytle’s major requires her to take many challenging classes like biology, chemistry and animal production, almost all of which have required extensive labs.
She also has practice every day during the fall with drills on some days and conditioning on the others.
“Time management is my biggest challenge,” Lytle said. “I may leave on the weekend and take my computer, but when I get there, I’m in the game.”
As of September, Lytle led the Big 12 in assists and had two goals recorded.
After competing on the field, Lytle enjoys returning home to her professors and friends in CASNR.
“It’s nice to show up in class and have Dr. Jackson joke around a bit about how I did in the game.”
Even on the football field, CASNR is well represented.
Stephen Hamby earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Economics as well as a Big 12 honorable mention for his athletic performance.
“I loved the teachers I had in agriculture economics and am proud of getting a degree from the college,” he said.
Since graduating, Hamby has been training to play in the NFL and has traveled to train with teams from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans.
Aside from a degree in agriculture, Hamby has learned to excel in any circumstance and credits his Texas Tech roots for teaching him that.
“It’s kind of what we do here at Tech,” Hamby said. “We destroy our competition.”
All of these student athletes have proven themselves as some of the toughest and brightest in CASNR, and although most spectators don’t link CASNR students with athletics, they have certainly proven themselves both on and off the field adding to CASNR’s outstanding reputation campus wide.