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

SCU’s Unnatural Beauty by Lisa Lieberman

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Santa Clara University has been ranked among the top 5 most beautiful college campuses in the country in Newsweek, College Rank, and the Huffington Post on several occasions. At tours, prospective students and parents are guided through the sparkling new buildings and walkways outlined with roses, lilies, and pansies in vibrant colors.  When I tell people I go to SCU the first thing they say is “that’s such a beautiful campus!” Beauty, however, is in the eye of the beholder. This beholder believes there is a big difference between beauty and unnatural neatness.

At SCU the grass is always green and perfectly mowed; the rose bushes, whether they are in bloom or just a bundle of thorny branches, are always trimmed to fit into each other and around pathways. All shrubs and trees are a certain height and are shaped meticulously. Gardeners are often seen driving around in lawn mowers, pruning bird of paradise trees and rosemary bushes, planting violets, chopping down old palm trees, or removing any dead leaf in sight.

It says a lot about a university to be well groomed and maintained. It makes it look put together and cared for, which creates a very positive image. But aesthetically it seems unnatural. It feels like a house that is up for sale, sterile and staged with bland furniture and decorations; and even though it looks appealing it doesn’t look lived in, it looks fake. The purpose of having such a generic aesthetic is to ensure that prospective buyers won’t dislike the house, and that it will appeal to the majority.

This is not to say that the extreme care, planning and work put into the campus’s landscaping is a bad thing. Maintaining a good image is important for the university when trying to reel in high school seniors and their parents. And being ranked one of the most beautiful campuses in the country certainly holds bragging rights. But the image they paint is too perfect and too clean-cut to the point where it’s uncomfortable.

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Despite my personal cynical feelings toward the unnatural ‘beauty’ of campus (and the spike in my allergy symptoms in the spring), there is a lot to appreciate about the work of the gardeners. In an interview with Ricardo, the gardener in charge of the area from Graham Hall to Brannan, he explained that he works eight-hour days, five days a week. His daily to-do’s include trimming, mowing, pruning, shaping, and caring for the plants and grass in his designated area.

He can trim the plants in the area the way he wants, but they have to meet a certain standard set by the head of the gardening department. Ricardo mentioned that even though he originally did not have much interest in gardening, after 40 years on the job it has grown on him. He cares for the plants and is very proud of his work.

The level of obsession SCU has with aesthetics is slightly ridiculous. Gardeners can spend hours on a couple of bushes to get them the perfect shape. The university spends too much time and energy on aesthetics. Because the greenery is over cared for, even if they were to give it less maintenance, it would still be well kept. And the time and energy spent on it could be used on something less superficial.

 

Reeling in the Party Houses at SCU By Brooke Wiley

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SCU Off campus house map from The Clara 

In October 2015, the Santa Clara University Housing Department sent out an email to students living in houses a block off campus on Bellomy and Lafayette Streets. This email shared some “exciting” news that the house they were living in had been bought by the school, and for the 2016-2017 school year it is going to be run by SCU Housing as a part of their new Neighborhood Units.

Most of the students living in these houses are juniors who, at the time, were studying abroad. The email came out of left field, undeniably shocking them. Everyone tried to gather as much information as they could, which was difficult to do from halfway around the world. “I had no idea this was coming, it completely changes my plans for next year,” said Alaina Lester, a junior studying abroad in Prague.

 

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Picnic table outside of “Cloud 9” House on Bellomy Street

After receiving the email Lester heard only little bits of information from the university about the upcoming process. It wasn’t until the beginning of December, that she was told she needed to sign the housing contract attached in the email and turn it in to the housing officer no later than Monday November 30th.

Lester and all seven other members of her house decided to resign the contract, committing to live in their house again next year, even though they didn’t really know all the regulations and changes that were coming their way.

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“Cloud 9” House on Bellomy Street

Marley Miller, another junior living on Bellomy Street, lives in a house of four, and only one girl in her house decided to stay. The rest are moving to various houses that are not being run by the university. Miller is one of the three people leaving her current house after this school year ends and moving to a non Santa Clara University run house.

After seeing all these different reactions, it introduced the idea of why Santa Clara would choose to do this now, and according to Lester the answer to that is ‘the party houses’. “Party houses are those houses off campus where people get transported for alcohol poisoning, neighbors complain about noise, and parties get shut down by the police. There are certain houses that are known for constantly getting in trouble and have fines adding up,” said Lester “In my opinion this is one of the main draws from Santa Clara University, and these are the main houses that are a part of the Neighborhood Units”.

unnamedAfter hearing some of Lester’s ideas, she began explaining how her house has been moving forward in accordance with the university. Lester hadn’t received too much information about what was to come next with her house and was getting a little concerned, but she really didn’t have an option of backing out because she had no other housing option. At the end of March Lester and the rest of her housemates got an email from SCU Housing titled “Housing Cancellation” basically saying that no one from their house had attended in person room selection in the housing office or sent a representative so they were going to cancel their housing because it looked like we weren’t interested.

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“Pink” House on Bellomy Street

Her whole house went into frenzy, freaking out and wondering how they never got any notice or information about this. They emailed back right away and sent someone into the office, and it did get worked out. This lead to two more emails, one with notices about contractors and another about an off campus Neighborhood Units meeting.

 

The first email told the current tenants that the university is sending out contractors to each of the Neighborhood Units. This email was sent with very little time for the tenants to respond or ask questions. All they knew is that they would need access to every room in the house. And sure enough the contractors came in an inspected their house. The contractors ended up coming on multiple occasions and the tenants had very little information regarding each of their visits.

At this point Lester and her house had more questions than answers. Finally in late February SCU Housing sent an email out that notified all the future tenants of the Neighborhood Units they are required to attend one of two informational sessions. The girls of Lester’s house decided to go to the first.

First of all, Lester said they university really stressed that there would be minimal intervention from them, unless it became absolutely necessary such as the cops being called on a party and then campus safety would come to the scene. Lester explained some of the other changes and overall they seem fairly minimal such as the only way to get into your house and room is with your access card, you can’t bring in your own lofted bed, and the move in date is September 1st, so no one can live in during the summer due to renovations. Overall these regulations don’t seem awful but some definitely came as a surprise to Lester’s house.

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Looking down Bellomy Street

After hearing all about the changes taking place in the units for the next school year, Miller is relieved to not have to deal with it. Miller stated “The Neighborhood Units are so new to Santa Clara’s off campus living situation. It is a smart move from the school, however there has been some backlash. I am interested to see how this will go next year.”

 

 

Photos via Brooke Wiley

 

 

Why Walk When You Can Parkour?

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 9.14.03 PMParkour, also known as free-running, has made it to SCU. Don’t worry Campus Safety, free-runners aren’t grinding university hand rails with skateboards, bikes, or even rollerblades. One thing is for sure, they are using the hand rails for anything but their intended purpose.

This exciting sport has been trending in the world of extreme sports in recent years. SCU student parkour enthusiasts can be seen around campus and have collaborated to found  SCUPK, the official parkour club of Santa Clara University. This all inclusive club even has instructors so all experience levels will be welcomed.

These Squirrels are Nuts

squirrel-post4We’ve all seen them, strutting along the walkways like they own the place. They dodge longboarders with ease and have enough nerve to steal your Benson meal right out of your plate if you’re not looking. I’m talking, of course, about the campus squirrels. These little mammals’ nerve does not match their small stature. They can walk straight up to us humans and have no problem doing it.

I’ve been to other college campuses and it seems that all squirrels whose home is the college campus have this unrelenting nerve. I’ve always wondered why. You would think that they’d be more afraid of us since there are so many humans in such a small place, but in fact it’s the exact opposite. It is a very interesting phenomenon. Perhaps it’s our delicious Benson food that attracts them or the beautiful campus. Maybe they are all a part of one big social squirrel family. Whatever it is, they are here to stay.

Next time you walk around campus, take note of these little critters. They bring life and a little piece of nature with them to this campus. Maybe you’ll even be lucky enough to find the rouge “black squirrel.” You’ll have to really look to find him though.

Photo Credit: http://www.nickomargolies.com/big/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/squirrel-post4.jpg 

Seven Months in London

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Tower Bridge, London, England

Addie Beck wasn’t thrilled about getting up at dawn and standing the freezing rain, but she figured this was the sort of event she came to London to experience. And it paid off. After a 12 hour wait outside the Royal Opera House, she got to meet Mark Gatiss, Stephen Fry, and Bradley Cooper, while coming mere inches from Christian Bale and Leo DiCaprio.

Beck is one of the rare Santa Clara students who spends more than one semester abroad. The junior English major got a lot out of her extended stay in Europe, but it also makes returning to the United States a bigger adjustment.

 London is the largest city in the United Kingdom in distance, with a bustling and diverse population. With a city that is known for its rich history, great museums, countless shows, red double-decker buses, Big Ben, and Indian curry, London is the ideal city for any study abroad student.

Why London? Beck was really interested in literature, art, and music, all of which London is known for, she said. With the quarter system at Santa Clara University, it is difficult for students to study abroad for longer than one quarter. She says, “I wanted to be there for longer than a quarter so it would really feel like I was living there,” and that is just what she did.

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Addie at Stonehenge

Halfway through her fall session in London, she received her acceptance for another quarter in her newly beloved city. She mentions, “By the second quarter, I knew my way around the city, and it was a very different experience from the first quarter.”

For the 2013-2014 school year, Santa Clara University sent 43 students for Summer 2013, 312 students for Fall 2013, 92 students for Winter 2014 (16 on spring semester programs and 76 on winter quarter programs), and 1 student for Spring 2014. Overall, only three students were accepted to study abroad for longer than one quarter.

She recounts on her academic experiences, too. The fall quarter provided many more academic courses to choose from, compared to the winter. In addition to her History of Music in 20th Century Britain, History of Modern Design, and Shakespeare & Elizabethan Literature, she held two international internships during her time.

In the fall, she interned for Ultra DJ Management and made many valuable connections in an industry she is potentially interested in for the future. In the winter, she interned at 15billion, a non-profit education business partnership, which provided her with another great experience.

Even after seven long months, it did not seem like long enough for her. She remembers experiencing more culture shock coming home from London than going there. This experience has forever changed her.

“I have gotten to go to more concerts and plays than I ever could have imagined. I could walk from my flat to the V&A Museum, Natural History Museum, Royal Albert Hall, or Hyde Park in a matter of minutes. There is so much going on constantly in London, it is truly impossible to be bored.”

As a genuine smile appeared across her face, she took a deep breath in and said, “I do not have any regrets, which was my initial goal when I first left for London. There were a lot of things I did not have time to do, but I am already making a list of what I still want to see and do when I go back some day… very, very soon, hopefully.”

–Kathryn Luna

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