By Alejandro Merlan
A quote once said by the high school swimming coach of Notre Dame College prep used to say “being a good athlete means much more than being physically adept. It means being a well-rounded individual with a drive for excellence, not just in sports, but in life.” Being involved on a sports team is not just about playing. It is about the camaraderie, the bonds made, the friendships that last a lifetime. About the life lessons, the challenges faced, the goals set. Sports develop character and charisma far beyond the playing field. It has been 43 years since Title IX was passed, and there is now a generation of female athletes and coaches who have never experienced life without athletics. I interviewed three individuals willing to share their stories with me.
Sophomore Guard Miranda Goen started playing basketball in second grade, and became involved further by playing in little with organizations like YMCA. For Goen, her father was instrumental in developing her love of sports.
“He would always try to get me to be more involved with sports,” stated Goen, “he was always more interested because he had no boys and my older sister was not interested in playing.”
Goen describes herself as more of a Tomboy. “In high school I was a Triathlete. I played softball, volleyball and basketball.”
Goen points to her parents was inspiration as both were athletes. “My father is the guy figure in my life. He was always motivating me. Now I motivate others.” This selflessness plays a huge role in who Goen is now. Goen sees herself as a team player. “My teammates are extremely important to me. I’m motivated because I’m close to them. I see them everyday and it allows me to grow connections with them. Sports allows me to bond with my teammates.” states Goen.
The importance of her teammates is evident on her decision to play in college. “I know if I didn’t play I would be devastated,” stated Goen. She also attributed her uncertainty to play in college to intimidation. “In high school I was the star. I was afraid I would not be [at Carroll] and because basketball was a winter sport I would not be able to go home for Christmas break.”
Despite this, Goen says that sports are the reason she can connect well with friends and keep out of trouble. For Goen, being an athlete allows her how to be more outgoing, and helps her to speak up and take charge in projects.
Freshman Gianna Molinaro started running in the sixth grade. “It was one of the few sports that I could do. I felt like I was good at it. I liked it so much that I couldn’t get through school work without running” says Molinaro.
The central reason on her decision to run is because of the team aspect. Making the decision to run in college was because of the crucial bond with her teammates. “I love the family aspect of the team. That means supporting one another, and being there for each other,” states Molinaro. For Molinaro, being there for teammates, encouraging them, pulling them off to the side and talking to them is what being a teammate is all about.
She remarks that making the decision to run in track was one of the best decisions she ever made. Molinaro appreciates every moment, every meet, every teammate, and even every practice. “Even just being an athlete make me feel good. I got to conference as a freshman, not every freshman got that chance and that means a lot to me,” states Molinaro. The appreciation Molinaro has truly made her a humble athlete and a humble person.
Freshman Kaitlin Loomis is not a typical athlete; at least she was not raised as such. “The reason I started playing was because my family was big on volleyball,” stated Loomis. Her parents met in a recreation league playing in volleyball. The sacredness of the game was elevated when her father proposed to her mother on a volleyball court. Loomis even has a newborn baby picture with a volleyball.
“In high school I ran track, but I loved volleyball. I love the intensity, and the super competitive atmosphere,” states Loomis. Her competitive spirit comes from her admiration for the sport. “My motivation was to stay strong and become stronger. My height gives me my motivation, I’m not tall for a volleyball player,” states Loomis. This setback gives Loomis the motivation to persevere in the face of this unavoidable obstacle.
In Loomis’s sophomore year of high school, she made the sacrifice from being an outside hitter, a position she enjoyed to a defensive specialist. In this way, she contributed to the team, and the defense improved. Contributing to the team on defense led her to help in other ways as well. Loomis now sees herself as a motivator. she makes sure she is a team player first and foremost and makes sure heads are up. “That is something I take pride in. I’m helping them get better because they are extremely important to me,” states Loomis. This is a mutualistic relationship within the team. “The support of my teammates was a reason I continued playing,” states Loomis. What she has taken out of sports is that an individual can get through anything. Sports helps individuals to fight self-doubt and help push through any life struggle.