Niskayuna graduate wins collegiate sportsmanship award

Niskayuna grad Emily Laurilliard is shown during a recent match for RPI. (Photo courtesy Perry Laskaris/RPI Athletics)Niskayuna grad Emily Laurilliard is shown during a recent match for RPI. (Photo courtesy Perry Laskaris/RPI Athletics)

BY ANDREW PUGLIESE
For Your Niskayuna

TROY — Recent RPI graduate Emily Laurilliard added another accolade to her college career on June 3 — the Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award for the Northeast Region from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.

According to a news release from the RPI athletic department, consideration for recipients of the award goes beyond his or her play on the tennis court. It takes into account academics and involvement in extracurriculars.

Laurilliard, a Niskayuna native, has been the athlete RPI women’s tennis coach Caitlin Crowley points to for recruits as an example of how to balance being a student-athlete.

“When it really comes to talking to anyone about whether it’s possible, she’s the example that we give because she does it,” Crowley said. “Not only does she do it but she excels in it. She never once has any complaint about what she’s doing or her time.”

Laurilliard had previously earned the Rensselaer Leadership award.

The four-year student-athlete was a resident assistant on campus for her last two years at RPI and also was a member of the Women’s Mentor Program. The biomedical engineering major was a dean’s list student and Crowley said she had some of the best grades on her team.

While Laurilliard’s most recent award recognized her achievements off the court, she attributed her successes in the classroom and community to the time each day she got to spend exercising and relaxing with her friends.

“It was just two hours where you could forget everything else, forget you have that test tomorrow, and then play tennis and be with my friends,” Laurilliard said.

The 2016 RPI graduate valued her role as a mentor. Besides her work with the Women’s Mentor Program and as a resident assistant, she was a captain for her tennis team and its lone senior this past season. She said she saw each of those jobs as an opportunity to pay forward the kindness she was shown by those who came before her.

On the court, Laurilliard took her doubles partner, sophomore Melanie Frank, under her wing the past two seasons. The duo earned All-Liberty League honors each of the last two seasons and Crowley saw the impact her captain made on one of the team’s rising stars.

“They became doubles partners and earned all league first-team this year and had just a phenomenal career together as a doubles team,” Crowley said. “She really helped her, led her and really made her into someone that’s going to be a leader for our team moving forward in Emily’s absence, which is awesome.”

Laurilliard said she was honored to be recognized for her hard work over the last four years. What made this accolade extra special, she said, was the recognition it brought to her school.

“I was really happy that RPI was acknowledged as well as my program,” she said.

Currently, Laurilliard is working for a biochemistry company in Rensselaer. She said she later plans to return to school for graduate work.

About the Author

Michael Kelly
Michael Kelly is a sports reporter for Your Clifton Park and Your Niskayuna, weekly print publications of The Daily Gazette. Kelly grew up in Clifton Park and graduated from Shenendehowa High School in 2006. He is also a 2010 graduate of the Stony Brook University School of Journalism. Kelly's work has been honored by the New York News Publishers Association, the New York State Associated Press Association, and the Associated Press Sports Editors. His work has previously been featured in The (Amsterdam) Recorder, The Saratogian, and Albany Times Union.