Soccer teammates Joe Rund, Evan Garrad earn recognition as Academic All-Americans on way to medical school
It had been quiet for a little while inside the University of Missouri–St. Louis men’s soccer team’s van as it motored down the highway toward the site of one out-of-town game this fall.
Evan Garrad finally decided to break the silence.
“Hey, Joe, what do you think about euthanasia?” Joe Rund remembered his fellow senior defender asking.
He couldn’t help but chuckle as he and Garrad recalled the conversation recently.
“So we talked about a pretty hot topic there for a while,” Garrad said.
Rund and Garrad were pretty sure their teammates thought they were crazy. But the Tritons by now have gotten used to the two prospective medical students talking about some pretty weighty subjects while all together on the road.
If it wasn’t an existential discussion such as that, it was a problem that came up in one of their biochemistry classes.
“We’re always doing school work,” said Garrad, who often took to sitting next to Rund during bus rides, each with headphones in his ears so he could better focus on course work.
The evidence of their studiousness? Rund holds a 4.0 grade-point average while majoring in biology, and Garrad a 3.98 while majoring in biochemistry and biotechnology.
Those numbers combined with their contributions on the field to a defense that posted a goals-against average of 1.13 throughout a 10-7-1 season – along with some of their extracurricular pursuits – were enough to land both Rund and Garrad recognition as first-team Academic All-Americans, as chosen by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
Rund, from St. Louis, and Garrad, from Springfield, Missouri, were the first UMSL soccer players to be recognized as Academic All-Americans.
They were also the school’s first first-team Academic All-America honorees since men’s tennis player David O’Gorman in 1992, and among only three U.S.-born soccer players to make this year’s 11-man first team.
UMSL now had 18 Academic All-Americans in its history.
The Tritons were one of only five NCAA Division II programs with multiple Academic All-America honorees this year in men’s soccer and joined Limestone as the only programs to place two players on the first team.
“I think it’s a tremendous honor for them,” Coach Dan King said. “It just shows the tenacity that they have. They’re both defenders, and they both attack academics the same way they do an offensive player. They go into a tackle to win it. They’re very competitive young men, and they strive for perfection.
“With them getting the Academic All-American, they won. They got it.”
They weren’t chasing such recognition, but it has taken years of dedicated work to earn it. Both have prioritized academics since beginning college.
Garrad hadn’t planned on being a physician when King recruited him to UMSL from Glendale High School, but he knew he had a keen interest in science and sought out opportunities to work in a laboratory from the time he arrived on campus. He currently works in Professor George Gokel’s biochemistry lab.
He made the decision to pursue medical school near the end of his sophomore year and will begin applying in June for 2018 admission. He intends to spend a gap year doing patient-care work in a hospital setting to gain experience.
Rund, who served as the Tritons’ lone captain this fall and recently garnered second-team all-region honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, transferred to UMSL after a year and a half at Alabama-Birmingham.
The St. Louis University High graduate made the decision in search of an opportunity for more playing time and to be closer to his then girlfriend, now wife.
“For me, I always knew that I wanted to go to medical school,” Rund said. “But it honestly wasn’t until I got here and started talking to Evan, he gave me a little kick in the butt to get involved. I don’t really have a lot of people even in science in my family and definitely no one’s a physician, so I didn’t completely know what it took to have a complete application involving shadowing, volunteering, research and stuff like that.
“We’ve had so many conversations, and he’s kind of helped me with getting involved in activities on campus as well as we have countless conversations where it’s 2 a.m. in the hallway, we’re on a road trip, and we’re talking about why we want to be doctors.”
Rund has already gone through the medical school application process and been accepted at both the University of Missouri School of Medicine and the UMKC School of Medicine. He is still waiting to learn if he’ll be accepted anywhere else before choosing a school.
In addition to pushing each other, both Garrad and Rund – who will each graduate in May – credited the support they’ve received as members of the Pierre Laclede Honors College and from the athletic department to position them for the next chapter in their lives.
“They’re always of course supportive of our academic efforts and they always recognize us for our academic efforts,” Garrad said. “I also think the things that they have offered us in addition to athletics are like leadership opportunities.”
Both are on the executive board of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, where Garrad serves as the president and Rund is the co-vice president.
They have also benefitted from scholarship donors during their time at UMSL. Rund has received the Eugene J. Meehan Scholarship, the Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship and the Backstoppers Scholarship. Garrad has the Will and Hellen Carpenter Leadership Council Scholarship for Excellence in the Sciences for the second year and is a former recipient of the JMS Scholarship.
King is happy he is able to celebrate their achievements.
“I think it shows the strength of the program, where it is today,” he said. “We’re striving to do good things on and off the field, and this just proves what we’re preaching – that we’re getting quality people in here doing quality things.”
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