Being a student-athlete on campus takes the phrase “proud to be a Pioneer” and gives it a whole new meaning.
When you spend hours on end in the weight room and in the gym, and literally put your blood, sweat and tears into your sport, it makes putting on that navy and orange jersey for game day so rewarding. You aren’t just grinding for yourself, but rather your school and your community. Many students do truly love this school, but being an athlete makes your connection with this school personal. It allows us to give back to this school that has given us the opportunity to continue playing the sport that we love. It amplifies my emotional connection with this institution when I’m walking into the Café and someone stops to tell me I played awesome the night before. Or when I get an email from my advisor saying she heard my name on the news. It’s the little things that make me proud to be a Pioneer.
As an athlete we often get short changed on school breaks because we are expected to be back early for practice, or possibly not go home at all. It’s a choice we made when we committed to being a Pioneer, and a choice we have gracefully accepted. As athletes, we spend more time on this campus than your average student. Being able to walk through this campus when school is not in session and no one but your teammates are around makes you appreciate all this school has to offer. When you spend so much extra time on the UC campus, you can’t help but make this place your second home. Your teammates, coaches, and staff in the athletic department are your family. Having a family here at school thanks to athletics makes me proud to be a Pioneer.
Seeing your peers come to games and cheer loudly for you just reiterates the fact that this place is home away from home. These are our people. I understand that we are not playing in front of 10,000 fans like some Division I athletes do, but being supported by our fellow students, professors and families is what makes UC sports so amazing. Balancing school work and practice is no easy task. Even when you’re not in season there is lifting and conditioning, but balancing it all and being able to perform on game day makes me proud to be a Pioneer.
The life of a student-athlete is no walk in the park. Some days I question how I even manage it, but being able to play for an amazing school like Utica College makes it all worth it. Seeing my peers, administrators and professors support me reassures me that I wouldn’t want to be spending my time anywhere else.
Thank you to everyone who is involved in some way, shape or form in the athletics world at UC. Adults, students, friends and family, YOU…make me proud to be a Pioneer.