UGA swimmer Callie Dickinson wins award as a top SEC scholar-athlete

Callie Dickinson during Georgia’s game against Kennesaw State at Foley Field in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2023. (Kari Hodges/UGAAA)

Credit: Kari Hodges/UGAAA

Credit: Kari Hodges/UGAAA

Callie Dickinson during Georgia’s game against Kennesaw State at Foley Field in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2023. (Kari Hodges/UGAAA)

ATHENS — When Callie Dickinson stepped onto the pitcher’s mound at Foley Field on Tuesday to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Georgia’s game against Kennesaw State, few in the sparse crowd likely understood the significance of the accomplishment that put her there.

Earlier that day, Dickinson had been named a Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete of the Year by the SEC. To receive the award means one has excelled at the highest level of both sport and academia.

UGA has produced only 11 recipients of the award since its inception in the 1980s. It is named for the former SEC commissioner, who also happened to be a Georgia Bulldog.

Dickinson seems a worthy recipient of the award, presented annually by the SEC to one woman and one man. Dickinson and LSU cross country runner Jackson Martingayle were selected by a committee of faculty athletics representatives from all 14 SEC institutions. Each will receive a $20,000 post-graduate scholarship.

As a swimmer, Dickinson is a six-time All-American and three-time All-SEC performer for the Bulldogs. In the classroom, she graduated summa cum laude in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in human development and family science while maintaining 3.92 GPA. Currently, Dickinson is pursuing a master’s degree in comparative biomedical sciences, tallying a 4.0 GPA in the fall semester and tracking to graduate this summer. She is intending to pursue a career as an orthopedic surgeon while also training for the upcoming World Championships and 2024 Summer Olympic Games.

She has both sides of scholar-athlete covered.

“I am honored to receive this prestigious award from the SEC,” Dickinson said in a UGA news release. “I want to thank the Faculty Athletics Representatives for this honor, as well as the University of Georgia’s academics staff for nominating me. I am grateful for the support of my teammates, The Georgia Way, and my coaching staff, especially my head coaches Stefanie Williams Moreno and Jack Bauerle. I will forever be thankful for the University of Georgia and the many opportunities it has provided for me.”

The story behind Dickinson’s story is equally interesting. That Dickinson is even attending UGA is the result of a “flyer” that Bauerle took on her five years ago. At that point, she hadn’t produced the kind of times that typically bring scholarship offers from a powerhouse program such as Georgia. But Bauerle offered Dickinson practically sight unseen on the endorsement of her coach in Virginia.

“Jack Roach is a great, great guy, a long-time national team coach and we were together in Rio (de Janeiro Olympic Games),” the recently retired Bauerle said this week. “I’ll never forget, he called me and said, ‘Jack, do everything you can to get this young lady. She will be great in every way.’ And he was right.”

Bauerle said Dickinson’s accomplishments in the pool are the result of “100% effort, even at 5:30 in the morning. She was exceptional to be with as a coach and obviously she can read and write, too.”

Dickinson qualified for the NCAA Championships in all five of her seasons in Athens. She earned All-American honors six times, including first-team honors in the 800-yard freestyle relay and in the 200-yard butterfly. She medaled four times at the SEC Championships, she won four medals, including a silver medal this season in the 200-yard butterfly. She closed her career with top-10 times in program history in four events: 200-yard medley relay, 200-yard backstroke, 200-yard butterfly, and 100-yard butterfly.

Dickinson named an Academic All-American four times and made the SEC’s academic honor roll in all five seasons. At UGA, she received Presidential Scholar honors (4.0 GPA with 14 or more credit hours) three times. She is the president of the UGA chapter of the Blue Key Honor Society, a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, a team representative on the UGA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and a member of the UGA Leadership Education and Development (L.E.A.D.) Academy.

So far, Dickinson has received the 2021 Michael E. Penland Family Research Award for kinesiology, the spring 2022 CURO Research assistantship and the Tucker Dorsey Memorial Scholarship Award for outstanding student leaders at the university. In fall 2021, she was designated as the lead researcher in a mitochondrial capacity study, with the project selected for presentation at two academic conferences.

UGA’s ‘McWhorter’ Recipients

1986 – Virginia Diederich (women’s swimming and diving)

1988 – Linda Leith (women’s swimming and diving)

1989 – Deanne Burnett (women’s swimming and diving)

1991 – Al Parker (men’s tennis)

1997 – Andy DeVooght (men’s swimming and diving)

2000 – Joey Pitts (men’s tennis)

2001 – Kim Black (women’s swimming and diving)

2012 – Wendy Trott (women’s swimming and diving)

2014 – Shannon Vreeland (women’s swimming and diving)

2015 – Maddie Locus (women’s swimming and diving)

2023 – Callie Dickinson (women’s swimming and diving)