For UW-River Falls senior soccer player Carlin Bunting, her college career not only involved excelling on and off the field; it also involved growing as a person.
Bunting was recently named to the Capital One College Sports Information Directors of America All-Academic first team, an honor she was nominated for by UWRF Sports Information Director Jim Thies. Thies said that the committee that chooses the team looks at more than just on-field performance.
“Carlin’s got the whole package, she’s a great soccer player, she’s a great individual, and obviously a perfect student in the classroom with a 4.0,” Thies said.
He also said that this is the third year that Bunting has been nominated for this honor. Freshmen are not eligible for the honor. The Academic All-American honor was one of two things that Bunting said she is most proud of during her time at UWRF. The other was one that helped reflect the growth that she experienced as a person and as a teammate. This year, she was named team captain.
“I’m proud because I really grew up a lot over the four years I was here, and I felt that my teammates were 100 percent behind me my senior year,” Bunting said.
Bunting explained that she had not always been a great team player.
“I think I played a lot more for my teammates than myself. I used to be into soccer because I wanted the awards but as I grew up, I didn’t really care about my stats anymore,” the senior captain said. “I wanted team success more than individual success.”
Two events helped change Bunting’s perspective on things. One of the two came when a teammate’s mother died. Bunting said that it helped her see the big picture and appreciate the people we have around us. The other event was an injury Bunting suffered that she said helped her realize how important everyone is to the team.
“I had to sit due to injury which made me appreciate all the people who sit on the bench and cheer. It’s not all about the 11 starters.”
In addition to making the Academic All-American team, Bunting also won the WIAC women’s soccer Scholar-Athlete award and is a three-time All-WIAC first team member, but Bunting is involved in more than just soccer.
She is a member of a number of clubs on campus, a volunteer at organizations like Feed My Starving Children and River Falls High School soccer, and she has had her research published at the University of North Carolina-Asheville.
She managed all of this while paying her own way through school as well. Bunting said that the keys to balancing all of her responsibilities are time management and setting priorities.
“You have to distinguish what was important, put school first. The more things you’re involved with, the more you’re prepared for situations later in life.”
Still, it was not always easy to juggle it all, and there was a rough spot between Bunting and a few of her teammates about her ability to balance soccer and other responsibilities.
“Some teammates didn’t feel like I was super-committed, but I explained that I was paying for school and living expenses and being captain at the same time. They understood. I would never sacrifice team unity for my own personal goals,” Bunting said.
The people around Bunting played the most important role in her life and helped her realize what was really significant to her.
“Coaches, friends, my boyfriend and family are just wonderful. I couldn’t have made it without them. I can’t take credit for all these things; they helped me see for myself what was most important in life,” Bunting said.
UWRF head soccer coach Sean McKuras said that he knew Bunting would be special from the time he recruited her.
“She was one of our top recruits coming in and she fulfilled everything that we thought she would,” the head coach said. “Carlin has been a leader both on and off the field, especially recently. She’s grown up so much as a person off the field.”
After she graduates, Bunting said she will be working a full-time job as an executive team leader at Target in addition to going to graduate school part-time at the University of St. Thomas to get her master’s degree in business.