My time as a Division III athlete has been both rewarding and heartbreaking. I have had the opportunity to play for two separate colleges during my collegiate career. While studying journalism, I have spent my of academic career doing continuous outside research in professional and collegiate sports.
One of the most rewarding opportunities I have received while competing during college was winning the Northeastern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (NIAC) Championship in 2018. This was during my junior year at Green Mountain College. I was not recruited to play soccer in college, and I was surprised they wanted me to join the team.
When Green Mountain College announced its closure in Jan. 2019, I had decided that soccer was no longer on the table. I continued to play pickup and league soccer with my friends on the men’s team twice a week. Colleges began to contact me starting in February and the people contacting me were all soccer coaches. I never scored a goal at GMC and I was not a “star player.” I never missed a practice and I was a scholar athlete.
One of the first schools to contact me was NVU. I had gotten emails in the same week from both Andrew Lafrenz at Johnson and Katy Ebner at Lyndon. The next week, schools from all over New England and the southern east coast were sending recruiting emails. I looked into every college and soon realized that a good number of them did not have my academic program. I found this interesting because my athletics website for GMC had my degree listed on our roster.
The spring semester of 2019 was filled with college applications, visits, phone calls, my part time job, soccer, and a course load of 21 credits. I never understood how I survived that semester from hell. I ended that semester with my highest GPA of my entire college career with a 3.84. I also made the commitment to NVU Johnson to join the women’s soccer team and continue my studies in journalism.
The summer of 2019 went by quick. I was working everyday and played soccer every Thursday night with my two best friends, Bobby and Jordan. Soon it was August and I had two weeks before I moved into my suite. I was nervous to live on a college campus and play soccer for a team with girls I did not know. I moved in and an hour later, I met the greatest group of girls.
Our season was tough last year, since we did not win a single game. We had some close games and a few tough losses. A few games into our season, I had a medical emergency after our game against Bay Path at Jay Peak. All I remember was that I could not breathe and it felt like my heart stopped. The only thing that walked me off the field was the adrenaline I had left. I spent that night in the emergency room and the doctors did not know what had happened. I was on the bench for two weeks and I wanted to make sure I was healthy to come back.
I stepped up to be a substitute goalie for the rest of the season. I appeared in the net for seven games and recorded seven saves. This was a learning opportunity for me and I stuck with it. Unfortunately, COVID took away my senior season. I trained with the team for seven weeks before I had to devote my extra time to family issues. This has been a tough year for me personally and participating in those few short weeks helped to control my anxiety.
I do not know what is in store for sports next semester. It seems that Vermont and the rest of the country is going through our third wave right now. The gym closed on campus the last week of classes and the remainder of sports practices were canceled. The North Atlantic Conference released a statement on Nov. 13 stating that they are “keeping winter sports on the table.”
I believe there is a chance that there may not be sports next semester once students arrive. I also think that all the teams, except outdoor sports, could continue the same training as they did this fall. The same safety measures and rules would have to remain in place. If any sports were to host games, I think the first teams would be tennis and volleyball. There is the possibility for basketball as well. Outdoor sports may not get the same opportunity because of the seasonal weather.
If I were able to, I would love to have a chance to play one last time for Johnson. This was a hard year to return to sports and I hope there may be that possibility next fall for soccer to be normal again.