by Joe Nicolo '22
GLASSBORO, NJ - Kevin Lauer is a cross country/track runner at Rowan University and he has quite an interesting resume. He is majoring in Elementary Education and flying past his competition on the track. Along with his endeavors, Lauer is actively working to become a pilot.
Lauer has proven himself to be first-class in all aspects of life. He separates himself from his peers in the classroom and on the track. During the 2019-20 indoor season, he was chosen to the Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area Team. Lauer was named a Rowan Scholar-Athlete of Distinction and was selected to the U.S. Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic Team. He received New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) All-Academic honorable mention.
On the track, he was awarded All-America honors as a member of the distance medley relay that qualified for the 2020 NCAA Indoor Championships. He ran on the first place distance medley relay team (10:06.06) at the All-Atlantic Region Championships. Lauer earned USTFCCCA All-Region honors as part of the distance medley relay. He came in seventh (25:07.7) at the 2019 NJAC Cross Country Championships and was a member of the All-Conference first team.
There’s no doubt that Lauer is an exceptional student-athlete and it becomes even more impressive knowing all that is happening alongside pursuing a pilot career.
Last January, Lauer officially received his Private Pilot License (PPL). He always knew that he wanted to become a pilot. “My dad was great friends with a Marine Corps aviator who would take me flying in a Yak-52 and do aerial aerobatics,” Lauer recalls. “He even allowed me to take the stick and fly from a very young age.” Needless to say, he was hooked. Lauer started training at 15 years old and hasn’t looked back since.
Acquiring a PPL is not an easy task. There is a written exam in which the aspiring aviator must answer 60 questions after studying a possible 900, an oral exam that can last up to five hours and a flight exam that can take two hours. All of this must be done to near perfection. Lauer says, “I would equate this to taking a whole separate 15 credits.”
So how does one manage to balance college, athletics and pilot training all at once? Surely that can be overwhelming, but Lauer’s coaches, Eric DuBois and Dustin Dimit, are not surprised in the slightest.
“I’ve never doubted he would do it,” DuBois said. “Once Kevin puts his mind to something, he really goes for it and if it doesn’t work out the first time, he’ll keep trying until he figures it out.”
Lauer attributes his juggling act to prioritization. “[It’s] key in balancing school, flying and athletics,” Lauer says. With Lauer working towards additional profession ratings like IFR (Instrument Flight Rules - which is an indication of how well a pilot understands the instruments in front of them) and a commercial rating (the ability to fly for hire), he has a lot on his plate on any given day. Planning the weeks in advance presents the most issues, according to Lauer, because the weather plays such a key role in flying.
“I always look at the weather at the beginning of the week and evaluate what days would be best to fly according to the Terminal Area Forecast which includes winds, temperature and possible weather moving in,” Lauer explains. “ I always prioritize school and athletics before flight. Meaning, I will never skip practice or miss an assignment to go fly. Based on the days that are good to fly, I orient my schoolwork and running in such a way that I am able to balance all three.”
Coach Dimit explains that this is part of how Lauer separates himself from the rest of the pack. “His ability to focus on what he needs to do to be good, while also able to encourage his team and try to make the team better.”
No wonder Lauer has had such a lucrative career already. His mindset and adaptability have allowed him to become great at three very different and difficult things. DuBois says that Lauer’s “very self-motivated and dedicated; not one to complain.”
Dimit adds, “He is very good at setting goals and working towards them. That work ethic is something that allows him to be successful on and off the track. It’s with that mindset that Lauer has been able to accomplish and balance so much.”
However, Lauer reiterated that he couldn’t do it without help. Of course, his parents helped him along the way; his mother shaping his study habits and his father instilling that hardworking mindset into him from a young age. Lauer’s father is a pilot himself and certainly supported his son throughout his journey.
Additionally, Lauer’s two flight instructors were immensely helpful to his success. “Gene Wentzel is one of the best instructors for anyone looking to get their PPL,” Lauer says. Wentzel has great patience and efficiency and taught Lauer to possess those same skills.
Kevin Laufer (no, that’s not a typo, their names really are that similar), is “arguably the best IFR instructor in the United States,” according to the Profs’ athlete. Lauer says, “Laufer trained me with meticulous accuracy and professionalism and holds each student to a standard of near perfection.”
With a team like that surrounding his aviation dreams, coaches like Dimit and DuBois and an academic environment as Rowan’s, Lauer is set up for immense success in everything he does.
With another two and a half years left at the University, his resume is sure to grow. Don’t be surprised if this isn’t the last time his name is heard. Lauer’s story is a reminder to always dream big and work hard to make those dreams a reality. With that, anything is possible.
“A mile of road will take you a mile, but a mile of runway will take you anywhere”