The Life of a Student-Athlete by Elizabeth Stephens

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I do what I have to do, because I love the sport and I love the school. I make it work.

College Athletes. They have the best life. Everyday is Nike Christmas, their teachers bend over backwards for them, they have a ton of friends, and receive privileges one could only dream of. When asked to think about student athletes in college, many will come to this conclusion. However, I can tell you this image is far from the truth. Here is what it is like to really be a student athlete in college…

There is no ‘off season’. From the moment I step foot onto campus, everything I do revolves around tennis. Many times people assume that my season is only in the winter or spring, and that my season only lasts 2-4 months. It doesn’t. It lasts all year. In the fall we play tournaments and work to figure out our lineup. The minute winter quarter starts we are playing nonconference matches, and when spring rolls around we go straight into conference. And when we don’t have matches, we are training so that we can be our best when ‘season’ comes. We are eating healthy, working out, and practicing to maintain everything we have worked so hard to achieve.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 2.46.36 PM.pngYou have long stressful days. The day starts with 8 a.m. weights and then straight to 10 a.m. office hours and class at 12 p.m. And we wouldn’t even think to skip class because then we wouldn’t be able to practice or compete. So class is always attended, and after class there is a 20-minute window to scarf down a sandwich or a granola bar and then head to physical therapy, followed by a 2-3 hour practice. After practice there is the long sprint across campus to make it to my 6:30 p.m. class. After class ends at 9:15 p.m. and I am physically and mentally exhausted, I make the trek back home. But it isn’t so I can curl up in my bed and watch Netflix or sit in the living room and gossip with my friends, it is straight up to my room to start the hours of homework I have before finally going to sleep, and waking up in a few short hours to do it all over again.

There is no break. I had two days off for my spring break. These two days were not graciously given by our coach, but they were instead days required off by the NCAA. There is no such thing as days off. If we aren’t on the court we are in the gym, and if we aren’t in the gym we are in the training room. It’s all tennis, all the time.

There are no special privileges. Attendance at every class is required and excellence in each class is expected. Missing practice or team events is not an option and don’t even think about missing workouts. Sure we get priority registration but it’s only to ensure I am at every single practice and weights.

It is hard work. The endless hours on the court and in the gym on top of class and office hours make college that much harder. There is no room for failure. You show up late to practice the entire team has to run. You make a mistake, well, you better start running. And, yes, school comes first but that is no excuse to slack off at practice.

So that’s what it is really like to be a college athlete. It’s hard work. It’s time and dedication that is sometimes hard to find at the end of a long day. But we do it because the feeling of representing your school is something unlike anything else. It is a sense of pride and accomplishment. So to the people who think student-athletes are taking the easy way out, I beg to differ.

Playing tennis for Santa Clara was the best decision I ever made. The hard work and stress seem so little when I am able to represent my school doing something I love.

Dani Silva and Madison Clarke reflect on their favorite moment from the 2015-2016 tennis season.

By Elizabeth Stephens

Photos via SantaClaraBroncos.com

My Club by Julia Sullivan

 

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Women’s club team celebrating a hard fought victory against Cal Poly.

Taylor Ferdinandsen believes playing club volleyball at Santa Clara is the best decision she has made in college.

“It’s quick, it’s fast, you can make mistakes and then get over it,” the senior said. “It’s a different pace than everyday college life.”

Santa Clara University offers many sports for both men and women at the club level, including volleyball, lacrosse, and rugby. These teams practice on average three times a week and play other colleges competitively. It could be described as falling somewhere in between  Division 1 level and intramural. They offer the chance to be competitive, be part of a team, and stay in shape without the commitment of playing D1.

While sitting down with Taylor, she explains how by her senior year in high school she was simply burnt out from playing volleyball. She just wanted to go college without the pressures and stress of playing volleyball as a career. She admits that it would be hard to let go of volleyball completely. College club volleyball was her golden ticket. “Even when I didn’t have the best years or good coaches, I was still so happy I did it,” she said.

Taylor smiles as she thinks back on her decision to sign up at the fall activity fair her freshman year. Just watching Taylor brighten up when talking about her experiences it is clear how much love and passion she has for the sport.

Taylor admits there are some downsides of not being  Division 1. While club sports do receive funds from the university, they are minimal and do not cover the basics needs for each sport. In addition to the lack of support by the university, there is not much advertisement done by the university of club sports. The only fans attracted to games are drawn in by players themselves through social media usually.

“Wo Knows about us?” she asked? “No one. Have they ever advertised for us? No. Do they give us any money? No.” 

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Women’s team at 2016 Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky

The only advertising for games is done by the players themselves and most of the funding comes from player dues and fundraising done by the players.  While club sports do not bring money in for Santa Clara University like division one sports do, they still are a positive representation of SCU. Many clubs on campus create a budget for their needs that the school funds, and club sports should have the opportunity to do the same. If SCU wants to continue to have a positive representation of club sports more funding from the school will be needed.

While not every aspect of playing a club sport is perfect, it gives a talented, competitive athlete like Taylor a chance to keep playing the sport they love. For Taylor, one of the greatest things to come from being on a team is the camaraderie. In her opinion, no one can just join any club and have that instant bond over something so passionate as playing a sport.

“When you put a bunch of women together to work towards a common goal there you wouldn’t really expect it to work,” she said. “And then you have a team sport where everyone is so different. I’m different than my teammates but it doesn’t matter we can all work towards the same goal and get along and make it work.”

One thing, as trivial as it might seem, that creates an instant bond for volleyball players is the ability to scream. “Where else in your life do you get to yell? Tell me about the most stoked you have ever been in your life and say it wasn’t during sports,” Taylor says.

By Julia Sullivan

The Life of a Student-Athlete by Elizabeth Stephens

IMG_6339.jpg

I do what I have to do, because I love the sport and I love the school. I make it work.

College Athletes. They have the best life. Everyday is Nike Christmas, their teachers bend over backwards for them, they have a ton of friends, and receive privileges one could only dream of. When asked to think about student athletes in college, many will come to this conclusion. However, I can tell you this image is far from the truth. Here is what it is like to really be a student athlete in college…

There is no ‘off season’. From the moment I step foot onto campus, everything I do revolves around tennis. Many times people assume that my season is only in the winter or spring, and that my season only lasts 2-4 months. It doesn’t. It lasts all year. In the fall we play tournaments and work to figure out our lineup. The minute winter quarter starts we are playing nonconference matches, and when spring rolls around we go straight into conference. And when we don’t have matches, we are training so that we can be our best when ‘season’ comes. We are eating healthy, working out, and practicing to maintain everything we have worked so hard to achieve.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 2.46.36 PM.pngYou have long stressful days. The day starts with 8 a.m. weights and then straight to 10 a.m. office hours and class at 12 p.m. And we wouldn’t even think to skip class because then we wouldn’t be able to practice or compete. So class is always attended, and after class there is a 20-minute window to scarf down a sandwich or a granola bar and then head to physical therapy, followed by a 2-3 hour practice. After practice there is the long sprint across campus to make it to my 6:30 p.m. class. After class ends at 9:15 p.m. and I am physically and mentally exhausted, I make the trek back home. But it isn’t so I can curl up in my bed and watch Netflix or sit in the living room and gossip with my friends, it is straight up to my room to start the hours of homework I have before finally going to sleep, and waking up in a few short hours to do it all over again.

There is no break. I had two days off for my spring break. These two days were not graciously given by our coach, but they were instead days required off by the NCAA. There is no such thing as days off. If we aren’t on the court we are in the gym, and if we aren’t in the gym we are in the training room. It’s all tennis, all the time.

There are no special privileges. Attendance at every class is required and excellence in each class is expected. Missing practice or team events is not an option and don’t even think about missing workouts. Sure we get priority registration but it’s only to ensure I am at every single practice and weights.

It is hard work. The endless hours on the court and in the gym on top of class and office hours make college that much harder. There is no room for failure. You show up late to practice the entire team has to run. You make a mistake, well, you better start running. And, yes, school comes first but that is no excuse to slack off at practice.

So that’s what it is really like to be a college athlete. It’s hard work. It’s time and dedication that is sometimes hard to find at the end of a long day. But we do it because the feeling of representing your school is something unlike anything else. It is a sense of pride and accomplishment. So to the people who think student-athletes are taking the easy way out, I beg to differ.

Playing tennis for Santa Clara was the best decision I ever made. The hard work and stress seem so little when I am able to represent my school doing something I love.

Dani Silva and Madison Clarke reflect on their favorite moment from the 2015-2016 tennis season.

By Elizabeth Stephens

Photos via SantaClaraBroncos.com

Audacious Athletes Rise to Physical Challenge

Triathlons combine swimming, biking and running for the ultimate test of strength and endurance.

Triathlons combine swimming, biking and running for the ultimate test of strength and endurance. (cnn.com)

If the word “triathlete” conjures up images of bulky, fitness-obsessed, hyper-dedicated athletes, then a certain group of Santa Clara students may surprise you. In this competition, some students are trying a sport for their first time. Others have never been committed to exercising more than once or twice a week. However, this didn’t stop students from all levels of fitness from participating in a full-distance triathlon this spring.
The Iron Bronco brings on-campus exercise to a new level, challenging teams of up to three students to complete a full triathlon over the course of two short weeks.
For some students, the prospect of running 26.2 miles, biking 112 miles, and swimming 2.4 miles seems daunting. But for others, the task is an exciting contest to push themselves physically.
Junior Jackson Palmer successfully completed his first Iron Bronco on May 5th.
“I had been meaning to incorporate more cardio into my workout routine,” said Palmer. “I had already been doing interval training on the stationary bike, so Iron Bronco provided a great incentive to keep up with my biking and add some other kinds of regular cardio as well.”
The ultra-distance triathlon has been a tradition on campus since 2001. Every spring quarter, dozens of Broncos sign up and get moving to accomplish what takes almost two miles of running, eight miles of biking and almost a quarter mile of swimming every single day to complete in time.

Jackson Palmer spent his fall quarter abroad in London before returning and being inspired to kick his workout regimen up a notch.
Jackson Palmer spent his fall quarter abroad in London before returning and being inspired to kick his workout regimen up a notch.

“The hardest thing is doing multiple kinds of cardio on one day, because typically I just do biking or running after a workout,” said Palmer. “The other hard part is doing the cardio in addition to classes, work, homework, and my normal lifting routine. It’s just more than I’m used to, but it’s not terrible and I feel great at the end of the day,” he said.
For students like Palmer, the real challenge didn’t lie in dragging themselves to the gym every day. Rather, trying something new such as swimming made for an entirely new exercise regimen that could be difficult to get used to. According to Palmer, increasing the amount of exercise he did meant also altering the amount of food he ate, and making other lifestyle switches to accommodate the new routine.
Just under 200 Santa Clara students hit the finish line this spring, all of whom received tank tops and t-shirts to commemorate their success. But the real reward for many was simply feeling accomplished and increasing their fitness levels.

-Summer Meza

From Culford Academy with Love

Daniella Silva- SCU Tennis- 2013

Daniella Silva- SCU Tennis- 2013

Many athletes claim that college makes up some of the best days of their lives, but not Daniella Silva. For Silva, the best days of her life happened at a castle in England, where she went to boarding school.

Silva currently claims the #1 doubles and #4 singles spots at Santa Clara University.

Silva has a good life here at SCU, but her life before college was just as successful. She attended boarding school in Cambridge, England. This is where she stepped out of her older sister’s shadow and took her tennis performance to a whole new level. Her school, Culford Academy, has been a huge and important focal point of her life. With stories such as meeting Olympians, wearing dreaded quilts, and attending school in a castle, nonetheless in a different country.

Silva played on a tennis team that was ranked number two in the entire country of England. In my interview with Silva, she told me many happy stories as she reminisced about her life in Cambridge.

Daniella Silva- SCU Tennis- 2013

Daniella Silva- SCU Tennis- 2013

In terms of Silva’s athletic success, Dani chooses to remain quite reserved about her record despite how great of a season she just had for Santa Clara. I immediately asked Silva how she felt about me interviewing her senior teammate, Steph Skaras. Silva claimed, “Not Steph. She doesn’t take me seriously.” With this relationship between Dani as a freshman and Steph, a senior, I decided to go ahead and do the interview anyways.

When I first spoke to Skaras and brough up Silva, she immediately snapped her fingers and said “Fierce Competitor.” These two words that came out of Skaras’ mouth formed one statement that every athlete craves to hear from their teammate. Steph went on to list many attributes about Silva, such as, “Heart, she has a ton of that. As well as courage, she’s not afraid. Loyalty, dedication, energy. Overall she was a great addition to the team this year. She made me want to play better. She really affected me, she became not only my teammate, she became my friend. So yeah, Dani is a great Tennis player.”

Despite Culford Academy being her previous home, Silva’s new home is here at Santa Clara University. She left behind a life in another country where she made a successful name for herself, but without doubt Silva is more than capable of surging ahead and becoming even more successful, here at Santa Clara U.

—Veronica Ybarra

Keeping a Lifelong Goal Alive

Santa Clara junior Sofia Huerta challenges a Stanford University defender.
Santa Clara junior Sofia Huerta challenges an opposing defender on the pitch.

Sofia Huerta, a junior forward on the Santa Clara women’s soccer team, had one dream growing up in Boise, Idaho.

“I had a scrapbook when I was younger playing soccer, and I cut out a little piece of paper with the cool scissors and it says ‘One day I’m going to play on the U.S. national team,’” she said.

Her dream has come true, sort of. While she plays for a national team, it isn’t the United States at this point in time. Holding dual citizenship, Huerta currently wears the red, white and green for Mexico when she isn’t suited up for the Broncos, but is still holding out for the day when she can represent the stars and stripes.

The All-American forward has continued to evolve as an intimidating force for the Broncos’ attack over the past three years, racking up numerous goals and assists en route to keeping Santa Clara among the nation’s best women’s soccer programs.

But, the all-important call Huerta has been waiting for from the senior leaders of the U.S. brass has not been made for some time.

As a 14-year-old, the youngster competed at the United States’ camp and immediately found success, dribbling circles around opposing defenders. But during the first full day of practice, Huerta tore both quadriceps muscles and was sidelined due to the injury.

Huerta would not receive another opportunity to solidify a position with the Americans until she finished her first year at the Mission Campus. At the behest of Santa Clara Head Coach Jerry Smith, she was given a second chance to lace up a pair of boots and duke it out against her fellow countrymen.

The results were not what she’d hoped for.

Competing against players who had spent a number of years playing together, mastering each other’s idiosyncrasies, Huerta was out of the loop and lacked chemistry. Despite being one of the nation’s rising standouts, the Boise native was once again left without a spot on the U.S. roster.

During that time, Huerta was just a freshman in college, learning how to balance academic, athletic and social life. Still a rookie, she also lacked a vital tool necessary to become one of the best in any sport: confidence.

As a member of the women's soccer team at Santa Clara, Huerta has become one of the best to ever play in the program's history.
As a member of the women’s soccer team at Santa Clara, Huerta has become one of the best to ever play in the program’s history, helping lead the squad to numerous winning seasons.

“I know I’m a good soccer player but then I know that I have flaws in the way I play,” she said.

Smith has told Huerta that she has the attributes to become a world-class player but the Santa Clara star has found it difficult to buy in completely, a quirk that has hampered her at times during her run on the pitch.

“The U.S. can see that; if you’re a confident player,” said Huerta. “They study that and they know. So I think they definitely had an issue with it and if I would have been a little more confident, I probably would have played better as well.”

Confidence may have been the only thing that kept Huerta from wearing the red, white and blue a couple years ago.

“If she wants to have a good game, it’s up to her,” said Alesha Blair, one of Huerta’s former Santa Clara teammates and longtime friend. “There are not too many other factors that can really dictate how well she is going to do and that’s a luxury a lot of players don’t have.”

In the previous two seasons, Huerta’s self-confidence has been growing exponentially. The Bronco’s offensive machine led the Santa Clara squad in overall points (40) and goals (16) this past fall and helped lead the Broncos to the No. 7 overall ranking in the country. Because of her output on the field, Huerta capped off the 2013 campaign being named an All-American and West Coast Conference First-Team member.

This recent success has solidified her roster spot on the U-20 Mexican Women’s National Team. In only a few appearances, Huerta has steered the relatively mediocre Mexican side to some triumph at the most recent FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

Huerta sparked the Mexican National Team's offense in last year's U-20 FIFA Women's World Cup.
Huerta sparked the Mexican National Team’s offense in last year’s U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Switching allegiances and playing for the Americans is still on the table for the soon-to-be senior at Santa Clara. Being a native of the U.S., Huerta can utilize her one-time switch allowed by FIFA to take the pitch and play for her dream team.

“I think it comes down to her buckling down and doing it,” said Blair. “If she puts her mind to it and if she’s willing to put in the hours of work to be the best at all aspects of her game; if she’s willing to do that and if the factors that make the U.S. team difficult (to play for) fall into place, I don’t see why it can’t happen.”

In the near future, Huerta could be called up by the United States’ U-23 team and work her way towards becoming a full member of the senior roster.

“If I’m doing well and I focus and I give up some things to reach my potential and the U.S. senior team called me, there would be no question in my mind that I’d play for them and not Mexico,” she said. “That wouldn’t even faze me.”

— Brendan Weber

The Madness of College Basketball

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The UCONN men’s basketball squad ended its improbable 2014 tournament run hoisting the National Championship trophy after taking down the Kentucky Wildcats.

As March Madness came to its exciting and thrilling end, fans and supporters of both Kentucky and UCONN were able to witness their favorite teams continue their Cinderella runs into the NCAA Tournament title game. Few if any thought these two teams, a No. 8 seed and a No. 7 seed, would make it to that point in the dance. Yet, the Wildcats and the Huskies reminded me that any team, from any university, from any conference has a shot if they can secure a spot in the field of 68 every March. Unfortunately, my beloved Broncos from Santa Clara didn’t have that chance this season. They haven’t had that shot to play Cinderella since 1996, a year when many of the current students on the Mission Campus were still walking around in diapers. It’s been a long drought, but as UCONN just showed the world, any team has a chance come tournament time.

–Brendan Weber

Iggy’s filthy crossover

In last night’s Warriors vs. Nuggets game, broadcast nationally on TNT, the Warriors’

Andre Iguodola created one of the best bloopers and highlights of this 2013-2014 NBA season. After grabbing a rebound, Iguodala pushed the ball up the court hoping to make something happen on the fast break. In an attempt to stall the fast break, Nuggets’ small forward Quincy Miller pressured Iguodola, reaching in an attempt to poke the ball away. Iguodola responded to the youngster’s eagerness by displaying one of the nastiest cross overs ever seen, reversing the ball behind his back to his right hand only to quickly cross it back over to his left. Miller couldn’t recover from reaching after the behind the back reverse and was left face first on the ground with a pair of broken ankles as Iguodola ran by.

As the NBA season comes to a close with the playoffs starting on April 19, the Warriors have a few more chances to clinch a spot as one of the Western Conference’s top 8 teams.