Wait graduates in three years, awaits KU School of Law

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — Cassie Wait walked the Hill on Sunday, graduating in just three years at KU, and was one of 63 KU student-athletes to be awarded degrees at the end of the spring semester. But Wait is only getting started.

With an undergraduate business degree in hand, KU volleyball’s standout libero will begin progress towards her Juris Doctorate degree in the KU School of Law starting this fall as a starter for the top-10 Jayhawks during her final year of collegiate eligibility. 

Engrained in Wait’s type-A personality is a fierce desire to achieve at high levels – both on the court, in the classroom and in life in general.

The Gardner, Kansas, native arrived on KU’s campus as a freshman with 30 concurrent credit hours and worked with a purpose during the last three years to graduate with honors — taking at least 15 hours per semester and a total of 21 hours through three summers. 

“Sports are awesome and sports matter, but at the end of the day school is going to get you where you need to be,” Wait said. “With my dad being a teacher, it is expected to take school seriously. It’s pretty cool to see that importance paying off now, even from when I was really little.”

Years before coming to KU on a volleyball scholarship, the law profession was introduced to Wait in the seventh grade through a job shadow opportunity in her hometown. 

“The idea of practicing law was always exciting, but that experience made it a tangible reality,” Wait said. “It gave me an up-close look around a firm — we sat-in on some cases, I listened to some of the conversations, met some people. Since then it was always in the back of my mind that I wanted to go to law school.”

Last Fall, according to its admission website, the KU School of Law boasted an acceptance rate of 18.8 percent with the average age for a first-year law student at 25-years-old. Wait is 21-years-old, and with her high LSAT score “she could have gone anywhere she wanted” according to KU Athletics academic counselor Scott Ward, Ph.D. She’ll join Kansas track’s Rhaeven Anderson and former soccer player and KU staff member Cassie Dickerson as recent Jayhawks to attend law school while still competing.

“She is one of those student-athletes who truly excels in both arenas,” Ward said. “She is one of the best liberos in the country while maintaining the work ethic to graduate early with a very high GPA and nail the LSAT out of the park. The fact that she does both at such a high level is astounding.” 

Wait accomplished all this with the demands of an elite NCAA Division I student-athlete that included a cross-country travel schedule from San Diego to Wyoming to Texas to West Virginia, and ending a magical 2015 season in Omaha at the Final Four. 

While keeping and setting the pace academically – she was recently named a recipient of the 2016 Dr. Gerald Lage Academic Achievement Award, the Big 12 Conference’s highest academic honor – Wait was the backbone for the Jayhawks during the best season in program history. She was recognized as the National Libero of the Year by some publications after leading the Jayhawks the the program’s first–ever NCAA semifinals appearance and a final national ranking of No. 4. Last season, Wait became the third fastest Jayhawk to reach 1,000 digs in her career and ranks fifth on the all-time digs list heading into the 2016 season. 

To the throngs of young girls who attend Kansas volleyball matches, Wait is already a shining role model. When prompted for advice for the younger generation coming up after her, Wait credits a disciplined schedule and list-keeping as lifelines to maintaining a high level of productivity with limited time. 

“Learn to keep a planner. Learn to be able to say ‘no’ to some things,” Wait advised. “A social life is very very important, but understanding when the right time to say ‘yes’ and the right time to say ‘no’ is important. Finding that balance between leisure and what you’re passionate about. There is so much more than just being a volleyball player at the University of Kansas and I think seeing the end reward helps a lot.”

She also notes that keeping a strict schedule and taking initiative early and often with professors can pay dividends.

“Talking to teachers the first day of class, during office hours and planning ahead is the biggest thing for me,” Wait continued. “I’m strict in keeping a planner. I’m a big schedule maker. Coaches appreciate it more. Teachers appreciate it more. If you go in a week or a month ahead of time, most everyone has been more than willing to work with me to accomplish what I have.”

As Wait begins law school this fall, expectations will be at an all-time high in the halls of Horejsi Family Athletics Center. But one thing is for certain — Wait will be prepared.  

No one knows this better than her head coach, Ray Bechard. 

“Cassie has been all that we’ve hoped for and a lot more,” Bechard said. “She is representative of who our university looks for in bright young people that are very goal-driven and create a lot of great opportunities for themselves and others around them.”

And if professional volleyball comes calling next spring, she will take it in stride. 

“I’m blessed with tough decisions, but I don’t have a bad option for after the 2016 season,” Wait concluded about the possibility of choosing between playing professionally or focusing her time to law school. “It’s a good problem to have. Whatever I feel is my best opportunity at the time, I will definitely take full advantage of that.”

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