Spring 1998

Aimee Vaughan, JMU's
Miss Multiplicity

by Curt Dudley

Aimee Vaughan has always welcomed challenges. With what she accomplished during the last several years, it's doubtful she will ever look back and find many wasted moments. The May graduate and daughter of Barb and Mike Vaughan from Cockeysville, Md., recently completed her JMU career as a soccer player, a lacrosse player, an accounting major and a Russian minor. All this in the traditional four years of college.

"It went so fast that I didn't have much time to sit and think how am I doing all of this," says Vaughan, a dean's list student who secured a future job with the accounting firm of Ernst & Young even before her senior year began.

"Accounting wasn't something that was really easy for me, so I wanted to do it even more. When I started my freshman year it wasn't, 'Oh, this is a piece of cake,' it was, 'OK, I'm going to take it and I'm not going to give up' and switch to another major because it was hard."

Her daily positive approach and stick-to-it attitude have earned her respect from her peers, professors and coaches. Being a bit on the modest side is also an admired trait.

Michael Riordan taught Vaughan intermediate accounting during the fall semester of her junior year. "It's the first course that starts to weed out those who aren't going to be accountants. Aimee was a great student and she brought a good vibe to the classroom," he says. "She's the type of person who is upbeat and brings a smile to your face when you see her coming. She has a great self-deprecating sense of humor. What also impresses me is that she's a Russian minor."

"I thought everybody took Spanish and French, so I took Russian in middle school," Vaughan says. "Luckily my high school offered it, and after six years I thought I might as well keep on going at JMU. I'm glad I did. I really like the Russian culture. I think it's one of the most fascinating cultures in the world."

Today's college athletes are entrenched in their sports year round. When not in the playing season, there's fine tuning, training and conditioning in an attempt to keep up with the competition or gain an edge. Coaches are often reluctant to share their players with coaches from other sports. But in Vaughan's case, she was so successful in both soccer and lacrosse that it was hard for either head coach to selfishly argue.

"She's an incredible all-around athlete, with a lot of raw talent," says fourth-year women's lacrosse coach Jennifer Ulehla. "Most importantly, she brings a tremendous amount of leadership and excitement to the game and to the team."

"There is a presence that she brings, and I think that's the intangible that makes everything work," says Dave Lombardo, who will coach the women Dukes' soccer team for a ninth season this fall. "She stepped into a leadership role right after her freshman year and quietly started doing things. She really made an impact through her junior and senior years, and a lot of the impact she made was off the field."

"The things that she's missed out solely on are the developing of her individual skills," says Ulehla, whose Dukes entered the 1998 season as the defending Colonial Athletic Association champions. "But because she's such an excellent athlete and has great talent, she picks up on things quickly and is kind of run-and-gun and gets the job done. Dave and I have talked a couple of times about what kind of soccer player she would have been, and she would have been a phenomenal lacrosse player" if she had concentrated on one sport.

"I benefited from playing both sports in that I didn't have one season where I was just practicing," Vaughan says. "I think that's the part of playing college sports that gets a lot of athletes burnt out, the monotony of playing the same thing over and over again."

"She's been able to stay fresh in both sports because she doesn't have to do one sport all year long," Lombardo confirms.

Vaughan, a midfielder, was honored by the CAA's soccer coaches as the league's rookie of the year in 1994. She was honored each of the next three seasons by being selected to the All-CAA first team. Her 16 goals rank 10th on the Dukes' all-time list, her 28 assists rank third and her 60 points tie for seventh.

Her lacrosse honors prior to the 1998 season included a selection to the 1997 Brine/ Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Association All-America third team, All-South second team and 1996 All-CAA second team. She was a College Lacrosse USA 1998 Preseason All-America second-team choice.

"I hope people see that I care about what I do and that I have fun playing. If you don't care and you don't have fun, then there's absolutely no point in being out there," says Vaughan, whose older brothers Mike and Bob played lacrosse at Virginia and Maryland, respectively.

"I think every parent should encourage their kids to play sports," she says. "I can't count the number of lifelong lessons that I've learned from playing, the people skills, camaraderie and the teamwork. If you realize what you are learning from it, it makes it hard to give up. My parents helped me through when I would get down and think to myself, 'Why am I doing this?' They're very good at reminding me of how much I have learned and how much I wouldn't have learned if I didn't play. If every college athlete would take that into consideration every once in awhile, just remind themselves why they really are here and what they are gaining from it, then a lot wouldn't be taken for granted."

Vaughan will take the lessons she has learned and focus her attention on her career this August in Baltimore. In the meantime, she will venture to Colorado for the Vail Lacrosse Shoot Out and then play soccer, lacrosse or both in the less intense environment of the summer leagues.

"I plan to take it easy and relax awhile," she says. "That will probably last about a week after the lacrosse season, then I'll be ready to go. I want to keep working out and staying athletic, but in a different way."

It's a good bet that she'll find another challenge or two to keep her occupied.

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