Mars graduate Courtney Shields has set team and academnic records during her swim career at Xavier University.
CINCINNATI, Ohio — Courtney Shields was never satisfied with her swimming career, even as she was setting school records at Mars High School in multiple events. Shields took that perfectionist attitude to Xavier University, where she recently wrapped up her career with three school records for the Musketeers as well as back-to-back Atlantic-10 Academic All-Conference selections. She is the first swimmer at Xavier to make the conference’s academic team twice. “I guess I just have the personality that I think I can always do better,” Shields said. Shields carried a 3.87 GPA this year as an accounting major. She wanted a 4.0. She was part of a 200 freestyle relay team that broke the Xavier record at the A-10 meet, but placed fifth. She wanted to win it. “It’s a good and a bad thing to always want to be perfect,” Shields said. “It really pushes me and keeps my focus on my goals. But there were a lot of goals I wanted to achieve that I wasn’t able to.” Shields had some lofty expectations when she left Mars, but her career was derailed a bit by a series of injuries at Xavier. During her freshman season, Shields was bothered by pain in her shoulder. An MRI after the season revealed three tears in her labrum and a tear in her rotator cuff that required surgery. “Coming from a YMCA program, they thought I wasn’t used to the workload (in college),” Shields said. “But it ended up being much more serious.” During her rehab, Shields suffered another setback in the form of a stress fracture in her leg that sabotaged her sophomore season. “I definitely went through a lot of ups and downs,” Shields said. “A lot of people expected me to quit.” Shields, though, battled through the injuries, all the while excelling in the classroom. “The way she went about her academics and her athletic career was the same: attack it,” said Xavier women’s swimming coach Brent MacDonald. “She brought leadership day in and day out and it was a pleasure to see.” Her senior year also was marred by pain in her shoulder. “This year was the most trying of all,” Shields said. “I thought I had put the pain and the injuries behind me. It makes me wonder what would have been had I not been injured so much of my career. “But at the same time, everything happens for a reason,” she added. “I think it has made me a stronger person.” Despite all the adversity, Shields will graduate with her name in the Xavier record book in the 200 medley, 400 medley and 200 freestyle relays. What Shields is more proud of, though, is her accomplishments in the classroom. She already has an accounting job waiting for her when she graduates in May and her high GPA helped her team earn CSCAA Scholar All-Ameria Team honors this year. “I think it was a great way to end my career,” Shields said. “It shows there is more than just winning medals. It shows what hard work in the classroom as well as in the pool can bring.”