Bedford High School graduate Jennifer Rennich has been recognized with one of the nation’s most distinguished awards for collegiate athletes.
Rennich, a graduate student at Westfield State University, is the academic All-American-of-the-Year for NCAA Division 3 women’s soccer.
“None of this would have been possible for me without the support of my whole family, all my coaches, and Westfield,” Rennich said in an interview. “I am so grateful for all everyone has done for me, even if they don’t realize how much they impacted my success.”
The 2018 BHS graduate had a longer-than-expected career at Westfield, thanks to the disruption engendered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Rennich explained that an NCAA Covid waiver provided an extra year in each sport to post-graduates enrolled in a graduate field of study. Indeed, she is currently playing her final varsity basketball season.
During the soccer season, Rennich compiled a 3.99 grade-point average and was ninth in the nation, Division 3, with 23 goals.
Rennich said she was inspired by her two older siblings to play soccer at a young age. Arriving as a third-grader with her family in Bedford, she was involved with the Recreation Department program, eventually playing four years of high school varsity soccer as well as club soccer year-round.
“My parents have always told me you can be a good athlete and a good student at the same time. It doesn’t have to be one or the other,” she commented.
Rennich said she committed to Westfield State in March of her senior year at BHS. “The first overnight for soccer, it felt the most homey,” she said. “I had to check out other options, but I knew in the back of my mind I was coming here.”
She won’t be forgotten soon, if ever.
In her four-year soccer career with the Owls, Rennich was a two-time academic all-American and a four-time first-team all-star in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference. Last season, she was MASCAC offensive player of the year in women’s soccer and a member of the United Soccer Coaches All-Region Team.
Rennich now holds Westfield State’s career records in women’s soccer for assists and points. Her 50 career goals were one shy of the school record, set 25 years ago.
“Nobody has worked harder over the last four years on the field and in the classroom,” said Owls Head Coach Todd Ditmar. “She got better each year while she was at Westfield State and played the best soccer of her career this year.” Said Westfield State Athletic Director Richard Lenfest Jr., “It’s a testament to how hard Jenn has worked both in the classroom and on the field.”
“All of my coaches have been so understanding if I am late to practice because of a class,” said Rennich. “And my professors have been so aware of what our teams are doing, that if I missed a class because of a tournament or the NCAAs, they have been terrific and supported me throughout.”
The pandemic-induced suspension of games and practices was challenging to navigate, Rennich related. “For as long as I can remember, I have been playing sports and going to school. Removing three hours of a day of practice was culture shock – I didn’t know what to do with the free time.”
“It sounds counterintuitive, but it was hard to manage my time because I had so much of it.”
Rennich’s undergraduate degree is in the field of movement science, with a concentration in sports medicine. “My goal is to apply to physician’s assistant programs in Massachusetts – maybe at Westfield State – and pursue that as a career,” she said.
She added that she plans to continue to play on her summer league team, and is confident she will find women’s leagues to join wherever she lands.
The College Sports Communicators Organization – formerly sports information directors association – manages and administers the academic all-America program in 16 sports.