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Jonathan Padrazo, Electrical Engineering, Freshman

About a week ago, I was sitting on one of the bleachers next to the Wentworth dugout, intently watching the pitcher begin her motion to deliver the ball to the plate. I had some extra time before my shift at work began, so I had headed over to the Sweeney field to watch the softball game. The game was still early on, and though it was chilly that day, I was still brimming with excitement at every play. Baseball and softball are some of my favorite sports to watch, and I was more than happy to come show my support for my friends on the team. I remember that specific play ending with a ground ball to my friend on third base, who seamlessly delivered the ball to first to make the out. I cheered, filled with that exciting “I know her!” kind of feeling. When the inning ended, the girls all convened at the dugout, congratulating each other and gearing up for their turn at bat.

Being neighbors with three of the freshmen softball girls, my roommate had suggested that I interview a few of them for my next blog post. While mainly I wanted to credit him for the idea (you’re welcome Stan), it’s important to note why I thought this would be such a good topic. After conducting my interviews, I realized how much these girls truly exemplify what it means to be a Wentworth student. Coming into college as a student athlete demands a high level of commitment, and it’s important to strike up a balance between sports, academics, and general student life. Their advice showed how to properly manage, as well as get the most out of being a part of a team.

The first question I asked was, not surprisingly, how they did just that. Balancing classes for a student alone can be difficult but playing a sport as well can offer some challenges. Shortstop and second baseman Isabelle Frank offered her own advice saying, “I’m a very busy person, and I knew this when I was planning on playing in college. I was busy in high school, so I had experience. I use a planner and my phone to make sure I’m on top of my schedule.” It’s important to draw parallels between high school and college, despite the idea that it will be completely different from anything you’ve experienced before. Basic ideas like a planner or reminders can go a long way, especially when balancing two different schedules. Catcher Jacklyn Verrette told me, “I see what I have to get done and what is done, and weigh what is important and what’s not.” Looking at what’s required of you from a distance can help prioritize and allow you to plan your weeks ahead of time in order to keep yourself from drowning in work, whether on or off the field.

However, pitcher Aurora Wilks says that working for the team can have its own rewards. “Physically, we lift twice a week…I like doing that, so it’s not as demanding,” she says. “We work hard at practice, and you want to work even harder for your teammates.” One thing each interview had in common was the love they had for their sport. The girls found it easy to deal with the extra work of softball because the genuinely enjoyed doing it. Doing something because you enjoy it may seem like an obvious concept, but it’s important to think about from time to time. Third baseman Ceilidh Higgins says that her favorite thing about playing softball in college is “just getting the chance to play again. Not a lot of kids get to play in college, and I was lucky enough to be chosen to play for this team.” Each had a genuine appreciation for the opportunity each had to play in college, and as a result found it easy to manage different parts of their schedules.

Another thing each player shared was their enjoyment of being a part of a team. Wilks says, “I love being on a team. I don’t know what I’d do without them. I came from far away and I already knew I had nineteen or so built-in friends. Those people end up being your best friends, like your family. You have their backs and they always have yours.” Part of coming to college is being able to relate with the new people you’re spending your time with. Being a student athlete all but eliminates the difficulties of finding a place to fit in. The girls are always spending time with each other, beyond just hanging out with the other freshman. Upper classman support and spend time with the other players as well, creating a very close community.

I finished up my interviews by asking the same question to each player. What advice would you give new students coming in college playing on a sports team? Frank and Verette leave comments such as “Make sure you leave time for yourself…it might not be demanding as D1, but you have to treat it that way,” as well as simply, “Give it 110% everyday, and stay positive.” Higgins reminds newcomers if “you need help with school, talk to your professor or go to the tutoring center,” while Wilks stresses that “time management is one of the most important things.” Like most things you do in college, the basic truth is that you will get out of your experiences what you decide to put into them. For these girls, giving their all is a part of who they are, no matter if they are on the field or in the classroom. It’s humbling to recognize their love for what they do, as well as their appreciation for the things they gain as a result. It’s true that college athletics are quite different from high school athletics. But, as the players remind us, the passion remains the same.

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