Four years ago, when the clock first started counting and the first whistle blew, a select group of freshmen athletes experienced their first taste of collegiate athletics. A myriad of emotions crossed their minds: wonderment at their new surroundings, anxiousness over the level of competition they’d be facing and most of all, excitement at what the four years ahead held in store for them.
Now, seniors on Chapman’s fall teams have closed the book on their rollercoaster athletic careers. New opportunities lay ahead and the end of seasons bring moments of reflection for these athletes, offering opportunities to look back on their maturation.
Some have dedicated over half of their lives to their sports. Jonah Tipp, a senior business administration major and soccer midfielder, has been playing soccer since he was just five years old. His lifelong journey with the sport paid off when in 2018, he was part of a team that won the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) tournament, a moment that he looks back on fondly from his athletic career at Chapman.
“Winning the SCIAC tournament last season was a fantastic feeling,” Tipp said. “It was a surreal moment, months and months of work that finally culminated into something – so that was really special.”
Faith Holloway, a senior biological sciences major and member of the women’s soccer team, knows this journey to success well. The program has improved its record in each of her four seasons playing and she was motivated to continue improving due to a natural, competitive spirit. As the years flew by, she reflected.
“During freshman year, senior year was so far off that it didn’t seem real,” Holloway said. “Senior year is one where you appreciate every game and every chance you get to be on the field, because you realize that your time is limited.”
Time. It’s a natural, unrelenting factor that’s forced these athletes to face adversity and evaluate their passion for the sport – especially in the case of Eve Silverman, a senior on the women’s volleyball team. Her career was marred by constant knee injuries. Yet rather than give in and cut her career short, her love for the game persevered as she fought back to rehabilitate. She now looks back, proud of her decision to see her struggles through.
“My freshman year, I dislocated my right kneecap. I made it to day three of hell week (preseason training) sophomore year and I did it again. January of my sophomore year, I had a knee surgery that went from being a recovery of six months to nine months – really easy times to quit,” Silverman said. “And I didn’t.”
Beyond personal self-discovery, an athlete’s career in college brings an opportunity to experience others’ perspectives, especially for Wes Hertel, a senior finance major and water polo goalkeeper.
“You’ll meet people from all walks of life,” Hertel said. “You start figuring out people and what their goals are, without them explicitly saying it. I have teammates; they’re not looking to be the superstar, they’re just playing a role. You can just accept that.”
Each has their own reflections and each has their own instant emotions upon their final outings. Silverman and Tipp described the end to their careers as bittersweet: sad to leave, but ready to move on. The end of Holloway’s time brought feelings of nervousness, with her last appearance coming in a sudden-death playoff game in November. For Hertel, it’s a stress-reliever, as his intense preparation for each match can finally subside a bit now that the season and his time on the team has concluded.
Now, they find themselves in the shoes of those they watched depart as freshmen.
“It was super emotional; they’re taking you under their wing and making you feel comfortable,” Silverman said, about watching the former seniors graduate from the court. “It didn’t really hit that I was a senior until Senior Night. Now I’m in their shoes. I used to look up to the person that I am now.”