Like any selfless person, Bernadette Grabowski just does things the right way and doesn’t expect any accolades for it.
The Indiana Northwest senior from Munster underachieved academically in high school and was the quintessential late bloomer in basketball after dribbling a ball for the first time in seventh grade and waiting until senior year to play varsity full time.
However, her time at IUN has been marked by success in athletics, academics and community service, and she’s been recognized by her conference as a national finalist for two awards for the combination of the three.
In September, she was named the Association of Independent Institutions’ nominee for the Emil S. Liston and A.O. Duer awards. The former is a scholarship for high athletic and academic achievement. The latter for student-athletes in any sport who excel in scholarship, character and citizenship. She did not win the NAIA awards, but being her conference’s nomination was enough.
“I know a lot of great athletes who set great examples,” Grabowski said. “I was surprised to receive this honor from where I was in high school, but it made me realize how much I’ve grown as a person.
“Studying elementary education, I’m working hard to be the best teacher I can. Awards are great things, but it also just made me think of how hard other people are working.”
The elementary education major has a 4.0 grade-point average and spends at least one day a week volunteering at local elementary schools in Gary and Hobart, working with students who need one-to-one attention to assist them in reading, writing and math. She will do her student teaching next fall once her athletic eligibility is exhausted.
“If you have the time management skills, you can do it,” Grabowski said of balancing school, basketball and volunteering.
“I just know how to manage my time to be successful and help others at the same time.
“I’m trying to make a difference in these students’ lives. Right now elementary schools need as many people as they can get. A lot of these students who are struggling never had the chance to succeed, so I try to work to boost their confidence levels up.”
The vocal team leader for IUN also does yard work and helps work with children at her church.
Grabowski, who has five other siblings, including four sisters, learned to care for her community from mother Elizabeth’s example. Elizabeth works relentlessly at the church and helps at nursing homes.
Grabowski, a 5-foot-10 guard/forward who typically draws the defensive assignment on the opponent’s best player, entered the season with 556 career points and is a key role player for the No. 21 RedHawks, who are 8-1 after Wednesday’s win.
“Bernie isn’t mentioned in as many headlines since she’s not one of the top one or two scorers. However, through her commitment and leadership to our program and university she is easily one of our most valued student-athletes we have had at IU Northwest and in our basketball program in the past decade,” coach Ryan Shelton said. “She is an outstanding teammate, fearless competitor and has unquestionably been our hardest worker over the past four years.
“Through her competitive spirit, leadership and intangibles, she is the ‘heart and soul’ of our team.”
Pride soccer squad to face familiar foe in return trip to nationals: It took a conference bylaw and a little help, but Purdue Northwest is heading back to the NAIA national tournament this weekend. Not only did the Pride make the tournament last season (as Purdue Calumet), but the opponent for the opening round is the same team and therefore the same destination, Grand Rapids, Mich.
PNW (11-5-4) travels to take on national No. 6 Davenport University (17-2-2) in the first round of the 31-team tournament.
The Pride finished second in the CCAC regular season and advanced when Cardinal Stritch won the regular season and conference titles. The CCAC has two berths to award.
Davenport won last season’s tilt 3-0.
St. John native Alec Guarino led the Pride with seven goals and an assist this season. Junior Chris Rassel (Lake Central) set a program record with 11 assists.