MOUNT PLEASANT - Some might say that Paulina Lee of the Central Michigan field hockey team takes on too much.
She will beg to differ.
"I have an interest in everything," Lee said. "I've always had an extreme interest in doing as much as I can. I don't want to be the best at everything, but I would love to know how to do everything. If I had the time I would love to join a singing group or join the adventure club. It has a lot to do with my upbringing."
A co-captain of the Chippewas, she has taken on the role of a leader not only on the field, but off it as well. She has become a student-athlete that not only her teammates, but also fellow student-athletes can model themselves after.
Lee partakes in several extracurricular activities, including Phi Kappa Psi, a co-ed business fraternity on the campus of Central Michigan. She also serves as the vice president of CMU's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and represented Central Michigan Athletics at the inaugural NCAA forums in Indianapolis, Ind., last spring.
"I've been exposed to a lot of experiences, which I feel very blessed for from my family and the way our extended family is structured," Lee said. "I've always had a thirst for knowledge and learning new things. I like doing everything and being involved with all of the different groups."
Part of the family structure that the Pittsford, N.Y., native is so fond of included growing up entrenched in the rich history and tradition of Cornell University.
Her father, Paul, and sister, Christina, each earned their bachelors degrees from Cornell and Lee always envisioned herself following in their footsteps.
"I grew up wanting to go to Cornell," Lee said. "My senior year I came to a realization that if I went there, it would be a different experience than I was used to, but it's always just been so comfortable for me because I spent so much time there growing up. It wasn't that I decided against Cornell or the East Coast, but the opportunity to play [field] hockey was a big attraction for me to come to Central Michigan."
Though Lee left her family behind on the East Coast, it has been her family at Central Michigan that has helped mold her into the person she has become today.
In addition to the many teammates with whom she has shared the field over the last four years, one constant has been the relationship Lee has with head coach Cristy Freese and assistant coach Earl Marais.
"Cristy has always been a great mentor to me as well as the other girls on the team," Lee said of her head coach. "Earl is just so funny and has a unique coaching style that works for me because he is relaxed, but stern when he needs to be. They have both really pushed me to be the best student as well as we the best athlete I can be."
Lee's passion and interest for knowledge have allowed her to become one of CMU's most decorated student-athletes over the last four years, earning several academic honors.
Along with being a three-time National Field Hockey Coaches Association All-Academic team honoree, Lee was selected as Central Michigan's 2011 Bill Boyden Award winner. She is the first player in program history to earn the award.
"I was definitely honored," Lee said of being selected as the recipient of the Bill Boyden Award. "One of the first things I did when nominated was try to find out who Bill Boyden was and I was very impressed by him. To be honored in his legacy, I am very thankful. It is great to be a part of a tradition of excellence throughout the athletic community and to be the first field hockey player to earn the award."
Despite all the academic success that has come her way, Lee still seeks one goal that has eluded her while donning Maroon and Gold: a Mid-American Conference Championship.
The Chippewas enter the MAC Tournament as the conference's number three. As they seek their first tournament title since 2005, it would be a little more special to the senior midfielder as it would result in a NCAA Tournament game on her 21st birthday.
"If I could have one thing for my birthday, it would be a MAC Championship," Lee said. "I can't think of anything else I want more. There are so many sacrifices that we make as student athletes and they are all worth it for that one split second of earning a championship."And for Lee, a championship would truly be icing on the cake.