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The Daily Tar Heel

Student athletes as artists

Katie Ford is one the women's swimming and diving team and also has a passion for drawing. 

Katie Ford is one the women's swimming and diving team and also has a passion for drawing. 

Katie Ford, Swimming 

It takes focus and dedication to be a great swimmer, and Katie Ford said drawing demands a similar skill set.

Ford is one of the newest sprint freestylers for the UNC women’s swimming and diving teams. As a new student-athlete on campus, the freshman unwinds after hours of class and practice with her passion for drawing.

The Pennsylvania native said she’s used to long hours of practice at the pool. Spending up to 20 hours a week with UNC’s team and juggling classes for her business major, Ford finds comfort and relaxation in drawing with her favorite Prismacolor colored pencils.

Ford said her interest in art grew during high school, where she excelled in AP Art classes and her passion might lead her to the new studio art minor that was recently introduced in the Art Department. The five-course minor is enticing for students looking for a creative outlet — including Ford.

“I think that my ability to sit down and work hard on art is also similar to how I work hard in the pool,” she said.

Ford called herself a perfectionist and admitted that her attention to detail requires a lot of time to bring her visions to the page.

“I like seeing the finished product and seeing people’s reaction to it,” she said.

Benton Moss, Baseball 

Senior Benton Moss started playing baseball at 5 years old. Not long after that, he started playing the piano, at 7 years old.

Moss has served as a starting pitcher for UNC’s baseball team since his freshman year, and he said he hopes to one day record his own music.

As a Morehead-Cain Scholar double majoring in business administration and economics, Moss keeps himself busy on and off the field.

But music provides an escape from the hectic life as a student-athlete.

In his early teenage years, Moss began to play the acoustic guitar.

From acoustic sets of Justin Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body” to James Taylor’s “Carolina In My Mind,” Moss said he enjoys covering a variety of musical styles.

More recently, Moss performed at the 2013 Rammys – the end of the year UNC athletic department awards show.

Moss said that whether on the pitcher’s mound, in the classroom or in a studio, he keeps one mantra in mind for his work.

“I think that with all things, practice is the key,” he said.

“It’s all about starting slow and work- ing through something — whether it’s math, music or baseball — it’s all about practicing methodically and getting quality results.” 

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Jake Matthai, Men's lacrosse

As a student-athlete who balances a full course load with long practices on the field, junior Jake Matthai also finds an escape in visual arts – primarily in painting.

Matthai said his interest was sparked during grade school and continued throughout his high school career.

At UNC, he continues to pursue art as a communication studies and studio art double major, which exposes him to styles of media art, drawing, painting and 3D art in the various courses he's required to take.

Matthai said he has learned time management skills from playing lacrosse and practicing painting. While lacrosse is about discipline and holding yourself accountable for being on time, Matthai said art is about taking your time and not rushing the creative process.

“Art helps me slow down and look at the world from a different perspective,” he said. 

Matthai said while some days are busierthan others, his passion for painting and drawing has made it easier to manage time between his passions and his schoolwork.

"I am constantly being pushed to try new things on the lacrosse field and in the art room," he said.

“But there is always more to learn in both lacrosse and art.”