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New SU Gulls soar into first-year sports

Updated: Oct 20, 2021

Being a first-year college student can be a tough transition for some, but the transition for student-athletes can be even harder.

Photo Courtesy of Brad Boardman

As fall sports commence and training begins, students must adapt quickly to the numerous changes of being a collegiate athlete.

Freshman volleyball player Kayla Pedersen has played the sport since the eighth grade, and originally started out just for fun.

“As high school and club volleyball went on,” Pedersen said. “It was a cool idea to continue in college.”

Pedersen reflected on her start to the year and said the time commitment is a major challenge in the transition, and “being in college takes time management to a new level.”

The first-year Sea Gull added there are “more practices and games that are a bigger deal.”

Pedersen also mentioned it was difficult to navigate her schedule at first, even with simple things like “finding the best time to eat and do homework.”

Unlike high school, where the schedule is set in stone, Pedersen noticed the freedom of college schedules and time management.

The defensive specialist said although it is a big transition, “having a solid support system from the start made it easier, especially since we got to move in early for preseason.”

Coaches, teammates and her family made the transition smoother, according to the freshman.

“Having a solid support system from the start made it easier,” Pedersen said. “Especially since we got to move in early for preseason.”

Olivia Twilley, a freshman on the Field Hockey team has played the sport since the seventh grade and has always wanted to play in college.

To her, the biggest difference between the high school and the collegiate level is “the drive and determination to win.”

While the transition is “worth it,” Twilley said the hardest part is adjusting to having school and sports together with the increased demand of work and practice.

The first-year midfielder said she is “always either playing field hockey or doing schoolwork.”

With the increased demand of practices, away games, more training and more difficult classes, the adjustment has proven difficult.

Twilley’s teammate Hannah Johnson has played field hockey since the 5th grade and has always wanted to continue her athletic career onto college.

Johnson described the biggest difference from her past seasons to her first year of college as the “increased intensity” of collegiate games.

Johnson added one of the key aspects to starting her freshman year was having a group of friends from the start. This made the adjustment easier, according to Johnson.

The freshman defensive midfielder described one of the biggest challenges of this new season being the time commitment.

“Away games are most demanding,” Johnson said. “Because you get home so late and still have to do homework.”

Johnson’s advice to any other athletes enduring this transition is a word of warning of the time management aspect. She notes a college athlete must be ready to “take a few months out of your life and focus it all on sports and school.”

Finding the balance between practices and studying is also an important skill to master early on, according to Johnson.

Dawn Chamberlin, head coach of the Salisbury Field Hockey team, reflected on the annual adjustment of freshman athletes.

“Athletes mentally prepared to going from top dog at their high schools to the bottom in college.” Chamberlin said. “There’s a big jump in expectations, skill level and fitness level that are required for them to be successful.”

To be successful, Chamberlin said it is important to work hard and make quick adjustments.

“They’ve got to start the process all over again and work their way up,” Chamberlin said. “Which can be intimidating.”

As difficult as the transition may be, Chamberlin notes most of her student-athletes have been more than up to the task.

As Pedersen, Twilley and Johnson navigate their way through their inaugural seasons, they are embracing the added pressure and are ready for whatever lies ahead.


Staff Writer

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