Summit’s Jenna Sheldon commits to Dartmouth in final chapter of high school juggling act

Summit's Jenna Sheldon sprints away from a pair of opposing defenders during a rugby match this past fall. Sheldon was one of the main leaders on the Summit girls rugby team and will continue to play rugby at the collegiate level at Dartmouth College.
Jenna Sheldon/Courtesy photo

There must be something in the water at Summit High School. The class of 2022 is sending another student to an Ivy League school to play rugby.

Jenna Sheldon committed to Dartmouth College in the early part of December after being accepted via early decision.

Sheldon joins senior classmate and rugby teammate, Olyvia Snyder, in attending an Ivy League school to play rugby. Snyder committed to Harvard University a few weeks ago.

Sheldon will be under the supervision of head coach Katie Dowty, who is entering her eighth year as head coach in the fall.

Sheldon said she’s been waiting years to apply to Dartmouth. Sheldon’s uncle and cousin attended the college which helped draw her to the school, but it was really what the university had to offer her as a whole that helped solidify her decision.

“There is nothing like it,” Sheldon said of the college. “They have such amazing programs which fosters women in (science technology, engineering and math), which is the field I want to go into. The environment is also huge. They have the Appalachian Trail that cuts through campus. They are on the quarter system, and you can modify your major.”

Sheldon was especially drawn to the Dartmouth’s recent success in advancing women who are interested engineering sciences, the major she’d like to pursue while at Dartmouth.

“I believe they graduated 51% women in their engineering class last year, which is a stat that most schools aren’t pulling,” Sheldon said.

Sheldon was already interested in attending Dartmouth prior to heading to Little Rock, Arkansas for a rugby tournament with the Summit girls rugby team last June, but it was that trip that got Sheldon interested in continuing to play rugby at the Division 1 level in college.

Jenna Sheldon poses with the Summit girls rugby team's 14th consecutive state championship trophy this past fall. Sheldon recently committed to Dartmouth College to play rugby, making her the second senior from the 2021-22 Summit girls rugby team to commit to an Ivy League school.
Mara Sheldon/Courtesy photo

Sheldon started playing rugby her freshman year. Despite being an experienced Alpine ski racer for several years prior, she immediately fell in love with rugby.

“I didn’t really expect to fall in love with it because I thought my heart was forever in skiing, but then I started playing it and fell in love with it too,” Sheldon said. “The adrenaline rush, the team environment — its been so much fun.”

Sheldon has been a staple for the Summit girls rugby team over the last few years. She was a team captain her senior year. She was also a cornerstone for the program, which won its 14th consecutive state title this past fall.

Sheldon’s passion for her team led her to even go as far as to host team dinners at her house every Thursday night in order to help foster team culture.

“(Snyder) will be the third Harvard girl, and Jenna will be the third Dartmouth girl from the Summit program,” Summit girls rugby team head coach Karl Barth said. “Both programs are really well coached and our girls have done well there. They both have been really well-rounded students and athletes to get a chance to go there.”

In Little Rock, Sheldon was enticed into starting her college recruitment process, so she spoke to several coaches present at the tournament. Eventually one of them put her in contact with Dowty at Dartmouth.

“I am so excited to play rugby at Dartmouth,” Sheldon said. “I visited the campus back in August, and their rugby coach gave me a personal tour. My jaw just dropped.”

Summit High School senior Jenna Sheldon poses with her Dartmouth sweatshirt and hat to announce her commitment to the college. Sheldon plans to study engineering sciences while also competing in rugby.
Mara Sheldon/Courtesy photo

As an avid skier for the Summit Alpine ski team and the Loveland Ski Club, Sheldon hopes she can continue to compete in Alpine sports in some capacity in the near future. The multi-sport athlete is currently in Norway skiing with members of the Norwegian National team and learning about what makes that team so successful.

Outside of athletics, Sheldon is also a top-tier student. After her first semester of senior year, she had a grade point average of 4.59 and was first in her class at the time.

Sheldon is currently still listed at the top student despite often missing school for ski competitions and rugby matches.

One thing that makes Sheldon a standout student athlete is her ability to balance everything she has going on. Somehow, Sheldon finds the energy to play two sports and complete schoolwork while being successful at all three endeavors.

“Part of doing all the things I do is the joy I get from doing them,” Sheldon said. “If you don’t love it, it is just not fun to do. It is easy to do when I am tired and exhausted because I love it.”

Sheldon is appreciative of many people who she feels have been instrumental in her success in athletics and academics, including Loveland Ski Club coach Rob Burke, Barth and her supportive parents.

“I see my coaches sometimes more than I see my parents,” Sheldon said. “In a way, they (Burke and Barth) are father figures, so it means a lot when they support things I want to do too.”


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