Abby Smucker, the A-List Student-Athlete
Abby Smucker is a really big fan of lists.
Smucker usually has more on her plate than most students, as the junior midfielder/defender for Penn State’s women’s lacrosse team has to find a way to balance being a star on and off of the field. To accomplish this, she sits down at the beginning of the week and maps out everything in the form of lists.
On the field, Smucker is a dynamic and versatile player for Missy Doherty’s Nittany Lions. By trade, Smucker is a midfielder, and a really good one at that – she was an All-American in high school at C. Milton Wright in Bel Air, Md. and played that position in all 18 games as a Penn State freshman.
But once her sophomore year rolled around, Smucker slid to defense. A handful of injuries left the Nittany Lions thin in the back, so despite never playing the position before, Smucker took on a new role.
By any standard, Smucker’s inaugural campaign in defense was a success. It led to her making a few lists, ones decided by members of the Big Ten. Smucker was named to the all-conference team, and her performance in the Big Ten tournament led to her making the all-tournament squad; in fact, she was named tournament MVP as she anchored the Nittany Lion defense en route to the 2015 Big Ten championship.
Now a team captain, Smucker is again lining up in defense for the 12th-ranked Nittany Lions. Like last year, she started the season in the midfield but moved to the back line after a few games. Smucker is currently tied for second on the team in caused turnovers with 20, and she’s helped lead Penn State to an 11-4 record with a 3-1 mark in Big Ten play.
Smucker’s accomplishments in the classroom were just as impressive as her success on the lacrosse field. In addition to making the Academic All-Big Ten team, she was named one of the conference’s Distinguished Scholars, given to athletes who achieve a grade point average of 3.7 or above (Smucker managed to maintain a 4.0 over both semesters).
Smucker is a biobehavior health major, making her one of three Penn State athletes who earned Distinguished Scholar honors in that field of study. Originally a biology major, Smucker switched to BBH because she was fascinated by the mental aspect of health.
As long as Smucker is involved with science in one way or another, she’ll be following her childhood dream.
“I always had a passion for science,” Smucker says. “I knew early on, probably starting in middle school, that I wanted to do something in the medical field, and my passion for science grew as my education furthered.”
When she’s not busy with class or lacrosse, Smucker is involved in the group Global Medical Brigades, a student-run organization that sends students to developing countries with the intention of providing assistance to those who live in rural communities. Smucker’s involvement in this group, which she joined in the spring of 2015, led to her to Honduras over this past winter. Additionally, she’s a member of Penn State’s Student-Athlete Advisory Board.
She also bleeds blue and white, as her parents (Richard ’85 and Donna ’87), along with her grandfather (Richard ’51) and aunt (Nancy ’78) are all Penn State alumni. Both of Smucker’s brothers, Marcus and Jacob, attend Penn State.
Once she graduates, Smucker plans on heading to physician assistant school. Until then, she’ll continue working on those lists. Before she’s done, don’t be surprised if she makes a few more, like those listing NCAA All-Americans.
Bill DiFilippo, online editor