Student Athletes on Campus: Part I

Photo Courtesy of Ben Mitchell
Photo Courtesy of Ben Mitchell

By Vikramaditya Salwan

Staff Reporter

       Even with such a vast array of opinions, beliefs, thoughts and backgrounds, there is something common that binds us all together: the love for sports. Whether it soccer, basketball, baseball, football, ice hockey, water polo, golf, tennis, track, XC or volleyball, it is safe to say that each student is passionate about sports to varying levels. This means all the more pressure on the Pomona-Pitzer varsity athletes to perform.

       We talked to some of the athletes on campus about a range of issues, whether about the pressure they face, how they balance academics with sports, and their assessment of the season.

       First, I met up with sophomore Ben Mitchell, who is the starting goalkeeper for Pomona-Pitzer soccer. Ben is a chemistry major and hopes to do research in the future. He hails from San Diego and played varsity soccer and lacrosse in high school. Ben is a diehard Arsenal supporter and hopes to emulate Tim Howard’s heroics on the pitch. Here is our interview:

Vikramaditya: Ben, how much time do you put in each week for Soccer?

Ben: We have soccer 6 days a week including games and practices. Soccer probably takes out about 15 hours per week, and maybe a little more for the weeks we have to travel to away games.

Vikramaditya: You’re taking Bio, Physics and Chemistry all together this semester? How do you maintain a balance between soccer and academics, especially with such a time consuming major?

Ben: Balancing school and soccer can be really difficult. The hardest part is the lab sections because they always overlap with practice times. We are very fortunate to have Coach Swartz because he understands that school is more important than soccer and he is very flexible with players missing practice for academic conflicts if we communicate with him in advanced. The trick to staying ahead of your schoolwork is just doing stuff whenever you have time. If you have an hour before class, wake up and study. If you have a long bus ride, bring your textbook and get some reading done.

Vikramaditya: This is the first full season in which you’ve started all the games. What is your assessment of this season of your individual and the team’s performance?

Ben: Coming off of such a successful season last year, it was kind of disappointing to not even make the SCIAC playoffs. We lost six really important seniors and it proved harder than expected to replace them. We did get a lot of really good freshmen in this recruiting class, and with them and the solid core of players we still have, next season I think we could be very successful. College soccer is definitely a huge step up from high school, and I was super fortunate to have my coaches and teammates help me make the transition. I think I had a good season for being a first year starter. I’m looking forward to building off of this season and getting better for next.

Vikramaditya: What plans do you have after college?

Ben: After college I plan to go to grad school and get my PhD in chemistry. I hope to go into research after I finish grad school.

     I then met up with sophomore Christopher Santilli, an infielder for the Pomona-Pitzer baseball team. Santilli is a human biology major and hails from Minnesota. He plans to go to medical school after Pitzer. He likes playing FIFA during his free time and supports the Pittsburgh Pirates. Here is our interview:

Vikramaditya: How has the transition from high school baseball to college baseball been for you?

Chris: In high school sports, you almost always had some sort of coach to hold you accountable for getting work in, but at college you have to be accountable for yourself. This is in part due to NCAA regulations on practice time with coaches, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I have definitely learned how to hold myself accountable more now that it is mostly myself who has to motivate me.

Vikramaditya: Does baseball affect the classes you choose? How do you find a balance between the two?

Chris: Baseball definitely takes up a good amount of time during lab classes so you have to work with your coach to find which days would be the best to miss and then go out on your own to get the work in that you missed.

Vikramaditya: How’s the preparation for the season coming along? What are your personal ambitions for the upcoming season?

Chris: The fall season is going great and we are getting after each other in scrimmages. My personal goals are to do whatever is needed to help the squad and compete.

Vikramaditya: What do you make of the freshmen recruited this year?

Chris: The freshmen are settling into college life with juggling academics and athletics and look like they will add a new dynamic to the Sagehens.

Vikramaditya: What plans do you have after college?

Chris:  I plan on going to medical school and hopefully after that get into an ophthalmology residency.

The student athletes represent us, and needless to say, your support during games is invaluable to them. So, don’t question yourself when you decide to walk down to Pomona to watch the games.

More interviews with athletes to follow.

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