UNCP grad leaves a legacy of health and fitness


Lindsay Bartholf finished an outstanding career at UNC Pembroke with the all-time record for three-point goals and a grade point average that was closer to a perfect four-point play.

Besides graduating on May 6 with summa cum laude honors, Bartholf was named Outstanding Female Athlete for 2005-06. A Pittsford, N.Y., native, Bartholf leaves as one of UNCP’s most celebrated scholar-athletes.

Bartholf said she appreciates the honors, but in her last days at UNCP, she was busy building a legacy.

At an April 28 walk-a-thon, she raised enough money to construct a fitness track at a local elementary school. Bartholf’s legacy is that the kids at Pembroke Elementary School will be healthier.

“Health and wellness is my passion,” said the health promotions major. “The basketball and academic stuff doesn’t compare to the feeling I got from this project.”

The project started last fall as an internship through the University Honors College. With the help of physical education teacher Alan Locklear (who Bartholf calls “the unsung hero”), she started a “Mileage Club” at the school in hopes of establishing fitness routines.

“Kids are so willing at this age to be active and playful, however, somewhere along the way they forget how much fun it can be,” Bartholf said. “I think the walk-a-thon and the Mileage Club serve as reminders to the kids. Not only have the students benefited, but I also believe this has begun to influence the teachers at Pembroke Elementary as well.”

The goal was $3,000 to build a track made from finely ground stone. The track will outline the school’s campus and be a place where students, faculty and the community can walk and run for fitness and health.

“It was awesome,” Bartholf said of the walk-a-thon. “About 250 children, parents and volunteers showed up, and the kids had a great time.”

lindsay_bartholf_1.jpgPembroke Pediatrics was there, and strongman Harold “Iron Bear” Collins gave strength and fitness demonstrations. Also providing entertainment and health information was Miss UNCP 2005 Morgan Hunt, another health promotions major.

“As Miss UNCP, Morgan’s platform was diabetes awareness, so we were very excited to have her,” Bartholf said. “Obesity and type II diabetes are a national epidemic and the Native American community suffers disproportionately.”

Fundraising reached the $2,500 mark before the event, and with the help of UNCP student volunteers, the $3,000 goal was reached. Bartholf thanked sponsors, including UNCP Dining Services (Sodexho) for providing healthy food for the children, local dentist Dr. Jeff Collins, County Commissioner Noah Woods, Pembroke Town Council and Geraldine Clark.

“ The community needs health information,” Bartholf said. “Exercise and good health are a life-long decision. Education is the key and action afterward is essential.”

“The obesity epidemic must be taken seriously; children are highly vulnerable to it, and adult role models, teachers, mentors and leaders must make health a priority,” she said. “I am encouraged because the kids have been very excited about their personal fitness programs.”

Bartholf walked and ran with the students during class, and she learned more about their personal fitness and nutrition background through a survey of third and fourth graders. The survey found that the structured physical activity levels of the students were as low as 30 minutes a week.

The numbers reflect a nation-wide trend, Bartholf said. There are solutions, and she is literally taking steps with the school and its students toward finding them.

“Seeing the smiles, and the excitement written all over the kids’ faces when they have finished walking or running their goal of a mile has been a constant source of gratification from this project,” she said. “You know that they feel good about themselves after being active and accomplishing a goal such as this.”

Some of the most important insights that Bartholf gained from her internship and planning the walk-a-thon included learning more about the Pembroke community.

“Pembroke Elementary School is a great institution; there are many people there who are ready for change and committed to hard work,” she said. “I have also learned how challenging community health campaigns can be. Above all, it has taught me the importance of patience and ‘small victories,’ such as being able to watch a child develop or regain a desire to be active and take on a more active lifestyle.”

A four-year basketball standout, Bartholf was a member of ESPN’s Academic All-District Team for two years. She was also president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

Bartholf said UNCP was “a good fit” for her.

“Four years went by really quickly, but it was an experience like no other,” she said. “I liked being part of a growing Univeristy.”

Bartholf cites campus diversity as a real advantage. “I met such a diverse group of people. I’ve grown because of that, and it has added to who I am.”

With a grueling basketball and academic schedule, there were challenges, including injuries to key players and a new coach for the 2004-05 season.

“My junior year was the most challenging,” she said. “We had a new coach, and we had to learn a completely new system.”

She ran the team as point guard and set single-season records for three-pointers and three-point accuracy. The team won 18 games and claimed first place in the Peach Belt’s North Division. Bartholf was first-team All-Conference, teammate Danielle Richardson was Player of the Year and John Haskins was Coach of the Year.

Ending her basketball career was “emotional and bittersweet,” she said. “I was upset it was over so fast, but it is so cool to look back on the memories and friendships.”

If there is a secret to staying balanced on the court and in the classroom, Bartholf knows it.

“I never identified myself as a basketball player,” she said. “I’m Lindsay Bartholf, who happened to play basketball.”

Bartholf is going to work in the health promotions field after graduation and then consider her options. “I am going to make sure this is where I want to be, then see where it takes me,” she said.