Seniors Laura (Bardall) and Brad Piehl share more than a last name. They share a love for basketball, The University of Findlay, each other and Christ – all of which were strengthened during their time at the University.
Laura, a pre-medicine and biology major from Sugarcreek, Ohio, arrived at Findlay as a freshman. Brad, an early childhood education major from New Knoxville, Ohio, transferred to Findlay his sophomore year and met Laura soon after. The couple was married on Aug. 10, 2012.
Though many college couples choose to wait until after graduation, Laura and Brad decided to get married while completing their degrees so that they could enjoy spending more time together between juggling classes and basketball schedules.
“It was rewarding to be able to watch each other play,” said Laura, who is a fifth-year senior. “It was fun to share our senior year, and we were both on successful teams.”
The women’s basketball team ended the 2012-13 season ranked 20th nationally with a 24-6 record, their best mark at the NCAA Division II level. The men’s team, ranked 22nd in the nation, closed its season with a 22-8 record.
Laura’s final season was especially meaningful because she tore her ACL twice during her fourth year. “I’ve been able to develop my leadership skills and also learn to deal with adversity,” she said. “I ended up learning more in my final year than I ever could have imagined. It was a humbling experience that gave me great insight and a new appreciation and love for the sport … I was overwhelmed by the support of the fans and my teammates.”
Brad had similarly positive experiences as a student-athlete at Findlay. “It has helped me to grow as a person and has taught me responsibility, leadership and hard work. Basketball also helped me meet many faculty members and create lasting friendships,” he said.
Off the court and in the classroom, Laura and Brad also excelled.
“Laura is an excellent student who strives to understand the concepts and then apply the concepts to solve problems,” said Bethany Henderson-Dean, Ph.D., associate professor of biology. “She is committed and driven in all realms of her life: spiritual, personal, and academic.”
Laura expressed appreciation for Henderson-Dean’s “counsel and the help she has given me throughout my college education. I appreciate her teaching style and willingness to go above and beyond to help me grasp different concepts.” Laura, who took several classes with Henderson-Dean, had the opportunity to do undergraduate research with Henderson-Dean, as well.
Within the College of Education, Brad also had positive experiences. “The College of Education was the biggest supporter while I was here … There was not one person who was not helpful,” he said. “Duane Philipp and Ron Philipp had the most impact because they not only helped me out greatly with scheduling classes to work around my basketball schedule, but they also helped me figure out how I would be able to graduate in four years.”
“The University of Findlay is neat because you get to know faculty members on a personal level,” said Brad. “We’ve gained a lot of friendships with the kind of people who you’ll want to stop in and talk to when you come back after graduation.”
As graduation quickly approaches, Laura and Brad plan to move to Iowa where Laura will attend chiropractic school. Brad will pursue his teaching career.
“I feel like I have a solid foundation in the sciences that will help me as I start chiropractic school this summer,” said Laura.
Brad feels equally prepared. “I have learned how to become a better teacher and am prepared to handle my own classroom,” he said. “The faculty at Findlay have helped me improve my leadership skills in the classroom to mentor and teach young children.”
Life as a student-athlete can be demanding, but both Laura and Brad agree that having God in their relationship is the driving force behind their success, both as individuals and as a couple. “That’s the core of our lives,” said Brad.
Somewhere between basketball and academic demands, the couple found time to grow spiritually. The pair was involved in a Bible study together, as well as individual Bible studies. Laura noted that she “enjoyed the fellowship, support and opportunity to grow my faith and relationships with Christ” while at Findlay.
“The University was the best choice because everything I needed and wanted to accomplish, I did with help from the University and its faculty,” said Brad. “The people here feel a sense of pride in the University and make you feel as if you are part of a family.”
Laura and Brad are looking forward to the next chapter in their lives together and fondly remember their experiences at the University.