The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
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Michael Lozada
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Harvey Wilhelm
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First year athletes make a statement on women’s sports teams

By Lily Seibert

Several first-years in women’s volleyball, tennis and golf have found themselves in top roles of their teams. While entering the College as a first-year can bring anxiety to students, the pressure could multiply when joining a sports team and competing as an integral part of the team. Yet each of the three women teams’ successes are largely due to the plethora of talented first-years.

“The environment is very positive,” said volleyball player Julianna Roth ’22. “Everyone is so welcoming to all the first years, and accepting of us coming in a playing and being very much part of the team.”

The teams’ upperclassmen have been instrumental in making the transition from high school to college athletics as seamless as possible. In addition to helping them navigate drills on the court, upperclassmen also advise younger players on everything from Latin to telling them which professors are most understanding about missing classes for competitions.

Volleyball player Julia Welch ’22 echoed these sentiments, emphasizing that several of the women have taken the first-years under their wing.

“I referred to [Captain Nora Hill ’19] as my mom, to my mom,” said Welch. “I was like, my volleyball mom, don’t worry.”

In an email to the S&B, tennis player Isabel Green ’22 claimed that it was “great to have immediate access to upperclasswomen who impart their advice and wisdom as you begin your college journey. Gaining that support system so quickly has been super helpful and made my first few weeks much less stressful and more enjoyable.”

However, the transition from high school to college athletics was not entirely smooth. Tennis first-years Sara Amano ’22 and Emma Gaydos ’22 mentioned the difficulty of a preseason that involved waking up at the crack of dawn and practicing for long hours in the heat, all while adjusting to a new academic environment. However, upperclassmen tried their best to orient the first-years to the resources available to them and provide constant encouragement.   

“Before our first match, I was really nervous about being on the team,” Amano said. “I didn’t feel like I could play well on the team but they were really accepting, and they helped me practice all the time.”

Volleyball player Payton Lowry ’22 echoed Amano’s feelings, asserting that, “since volleyball is so interconnected, we all have to work together in order to actually get a result. We all learn to work with each other on and off the court.”

While team members can harbor jealousy towards others over matters such as playing time, Welch insists that “there’s never any harsh feelings towards freshmen starting and seniors not starting.” Rather, everyone owns their role and does their best to contribute in whatever capacity possible.

“Volleyball is such a team sport where, if you don’t have good chemistry off the court, it will really translate to the results when you’re on the court,” Roth said.

According to golfer Nina Kouchi ’22, such an attitude extends to the coaching staff as well.

“The coaches are always willing to talk if I need something,” said Kouchi.

While each of the athletes have been pleasantly surprised to find such a friendly welcome at Grinnell, they knew the place was right for them early on in the recruiting process. Welch felt as though she was “automatically enveloped as a prospective student — they already had me on the team in their mind.”

“I decided, I don’t just want to play volleyball in college, I want to play volleyball at Grinnell,” Roth said. “The culture here and the volleyball program here specifically was where I wanted to play.”

While early athletic success can provide a boost to anyone’s college experience, Gaydos wants to remember the reason she started competing in the first place.

“The act of playing a sport itself can sometimes be overshadowed by the team dynamic because that’s the thing that people see on the surface,” Gaydos said. “But just playing tennis and just being out there actively participating in the sport helps so much with academics, helps so much with staying focused and with having fun.” 

Julianna Roth ’22, Payton Lowry ’22, and Julia Welch ’22 are part of a strong class of first year athletes.
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