Fourth-year athletes share memories, advice

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After three years at Case Western Reserve University, fourth-year student-athletes have a plethora of advice to share with incoming student-athletes. The veterans know all about balancing a full schedule and are more than willing to share what they’ve learned at CWRU—and not just in the classroom.

University Athletic Association (UAA) All-Academic award winner and fourth-year soccer player Maggie Tyma said, “Being a student-athlete has definitely altered my experience at CWRU in a positive way. It has brought me lifelong friends from the moment I stepped foot on campus.”

Tyma summed up her athletic experience at CWRU well. She said, “Playing the sport I love and being around the teammates I love every day makes my college experience whole. I cannot imagine college any other way.”

Women’s cross country runner and 2017 All-Ohio Championship competitor Isa Torres-Padin agreed, describing the “immediate sense of community” she felt when she joined CWRU athletics.  

Fourth-year soccer player Emily Dickens found greater CWRU involvement through her experience on the soccer team. Dickens said, “Every outside organization I am involved in now is because a woman from the soccer team introduced me to it. This includes Theta Tau professional engineering fraternity, Phi Mu sorority, Student Turning Point Society and the Think Energy Fellowship program. Being a student-athlete [has] given me the opportunity to get a full experience at CWRU.”

While Tyma and Dickens cited positive experiences, they noted that time management could be difficult at times. Student-athletes need to balance not only school work, clubs and social life but their practice and playing schedules as well.

Ellen Sears, a fourth-year on the women’s cross country team, added that “I think that many people at CWRU tend to overload their schedules, and athletics is one thing that I have in my busy schedule,” Sears said. “If I wasn’t an athlete, I would still have to find time to exercise, so why not participate in a sport that I enjoy while making lifelong friends? I also work 10-15 hours during the week, so most of my studying has to be done at night, on the weekends and on the bus to or from a meet.”

“This balance is not always easy but always worth it,” Dickens said.

Going into her final season on the cross country team, Torres-Padin said, “It feels bittersweet” but “it also feels exciting to see that we have so much talent not only in the senior class, but in all the younger girls and the prospect of such a strong team for my final year is an amazing feeling.”

Tyma enters her final season as a forward on the women’s soccer team  resolved to play her heart out. “Going into my last season I feel more determined than ever before. I am determined to make it my best and to give it absolutely everything I have,” she said.

Looking back over their careers, the athletes thought about what they wished they had known as incoming players and students at CWRU.

Torres-Padin advises above all else “to try to achieve balance—not only when it comes to school and athletics, but with friends and finding activities you enjoy.”

Robert Iriye, a fourth-year cross country runner, shared his best advice for new CWRU athletes. He said, “Make smart goals for each season. I wasn’t the fastest guy coming into college, but I’ve set goals along the way to help me continue to grow as an athlete.”

For Tyma, soccer has been a lifelong passion, and she urges incoming athletes to “give as much to the sport as it gives you and never take a day for granted.”

Dickens agreed with Tyma.

“My biggest advice may seem cliche but I believe it to be true: be grateful for each experience you have as a collegiate athlete because it is rare and your time is limited,” she said.