George Mason University

News at Mason

'She's probably a once-in-a-decade student-athlete.'

September 18, 2018   /   by Damian Cristodero

Emily Littell, a senior forward/midfielder for Mason's women's soccer team, and a bioengineering major, was named to the 2017 Google Cloud Division I Academic All-America Second Team. Photo by Rafael Suanes.

Emily Littell is so competitive, she competes with herself for grades.

That’s why the A- she received in her first chemistry lab at George Mason University, her only nonperfect grade in her four years at the institution, still gets under her skin.

“I want the best grades I can get, and the A- kind of felt like a loss to the regular A,” Littell said.

It was a momentary blip for the senior, a bioengineering major and member of the Honors College who also plays at an A+ level for Mason’s women’s soccer team.

Littell, a forward/midfielder from Leesburg, Virginia, who led the Patriots last season with seven assists and tied for the team lead with four goals, has been named to 13 academic honor rolls, including the 2017 Google Cloud Division I Academic All-America Second Team.

She is the first Mason women’s soccer player to be so honored and just the 11th Mason player, in any sport, to be named a Google Cloud Academic All-America since 1990.

To be eligible, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, have a cumulative GPA of 3.3, have reached sophomore athletic and academic status and be nominated by the university. Members of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) vote on the nominees.

“That meant a lot to me because my academics and my athletics are being recognized,” Littell said. “It’s an added bonus at the end of the semester and seasons to see your work pay off.”

That’s not always an easy reward as practices, travel and games demand a good chunk of time. So Littell—whose sister, Allison, also plays for Mason—carves out time when she can.

There are three-hour homework and study sessions with friends a couple of days a week. She also does course work on buses going to and from games and in team hotels when playing on the road.

“There are so many positive things about her,” said Claudia Borke, Littell’s academic advisor in Mason’s Volgenau School of Engineering. “She’s a very modest person. It was fun to be able to guide her to another level that she was motivated enough to grab and to succeed.”

Still, schedules don’t always mesh. Last season, with a class at 9 a.m. and some practices at 10 a.m., Littell, a two-time team captain as voted by her teammates, said she would run from classroom to soccer field and still be a half hour late. Thank goodness, she said, that Mason women’s soccer coach Todd Bramble was so understanding.

The demands of a bioengineering curriculum don’t make the days any easier. But Littell said she enjoys being pushed.

“I like that [bioengineering] combines the medical field with engineering,” Littell said. “It has a direct impact on people, and it’s kind of a jack-of-all-trades field. We’re not electrical, but we learn parts of electrical. We’re not computer, but we learn parts of it. I like the challenge of it. I don’t want to be here and just be bored.”

“She’s probably a once-in-a-decade student-athlete I get to work with,” Bramble said. “She’s just the total package. We see a lot of high achievers academically who are super intellectual but miss that leadership piece. She’s got that rare combination of a high IQ, but also a high EQ [emotional quotient].”

Still, there is that A- on her record.

“We’re a little disappointed in her,” Bramble joked.

“It does still bother me,” Littell said. “It dropped my overall GPA to 3.99 for a couple of semesters.”