Hail and Farewell   

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photo credit Olivia Oberman '24

There is a unique and special passion required to be a college athlete. 

It is nearly impossible for any student to stay dedicated to their sport through the impressionable, busy and sacrificial, four-plus years of college without a deep spark lit inside of them. This passion is often sparked in early childhood and high school careers, where training and competing in sports becomes an interest. At some point, there were family members, close friends, and or coaches who gave you the confidence to turn your sport into an undetachable part of your identity. The vision may eventually become taking your hard work to the collegiate level, regardless of knowing where that would be– just wanting it to be somewhere. 

Soon enough, you are there.

It is an indescribable feeling arriving at college not knowing where your sport will take you, what teammates you will have, how your coaches will inspire you, and in what ways your commitments will shape you into the person you will become. 

A “Hail and Farewell” is a military tradition of honoring individuals who are leaving and welcoming those who are arriving. As the athletic careers of many senior athletes come to an end at Muhlenberg, this article aims to serve as something similar. Many of those seniors have shared how they have grown from their time here and have offered advice to incoming freshmen athletes who are just about to embark on their own, special journeys as Mules. 

“Something I learned about myself at Muhlenberg is that I can do anything I want to do and accomplish. I never thought I would have experienced or accomplished many of the things I have in my time here, like winning a conference championship. Find joy in everything you do, whether at practice, games or outside of your sport. At the end of the day, it’s about having fun for the next four years and creating lifelong relationships. ” adds softball player Raya Kunes ‘24, who was a part of the 2022 Centennial Championship team.

“Try to enjoy every practice, practices are often challenging but that allows you to get better and they happen almost every day, if you can enjoy them, then you’d have 6 days a week doing something you enjoy,” says Josh Benson ‘24, captain of the tennis team. 

“As the days and weeks go by, you come to appreciate them more than you ever did,” adds, two-year captain for the baseball team, Jonathan Toth ‘24.

“Stay committed and stay determined,” says Ryan May ‘24, senior captain of the men’s lacrosse team. “If your career does not start the way you planned or your commitments don’t seem to pay off immediately, don’t get down on yourself. Stay focused and work to change your approach instead. When opportunities come, take advantage of them. College athletics has taught me how to be comfortable in high-pressure situations and in handling many types of adversity.” 

Women’s soccer player and editor for the Muhlenberg Weekly, Lexi Sipos ‘24, adds, “For the incoming freshman athletes, my best advice would be to stay present. College is going to challenge you academically, physically, socially and more. It can be overwhelming, but try your best to live in the moment and enjoy every game, practice, team bonding event and more. Life is too short not too. From my athletic career at Muhlenberg, I learned personally that you are truly capable of anything you put your mind to. With injuries or adversity, you can come out stronger than ever. The comeback is always stronger than the setback, and this translates into real-life experiences too. Athletics truly set you up for success in the real world, and for that, I am truly grateful.” 

Golfer Aron Gianchandani ‘24 states, “Know the fine line between student and athlete.” 

Toth builds on this, “During my athletic career at Muhlenberg, I was able to learn how to balance my athletic, academic and personal responsibilities that I will be able to bring into the real world.”

Student-athletes are asked to challenge themselves every day. The outcome of this is immense growth.

Former captain of the football team, Zachary Greenberg ‘24, will be furthering his athletic career at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill next year. He touches on his career at Muhlenberg, “Having the opportunity to play for such an elite program and brotherhood, striving to be a better man than you were yesterday is what sets Muhlenberg apart from the other teams in the Centennial Conference. Entering this program will give you the unique opportunity to make an impact on and off the field and reach immense amounts of growth. It’s all about the process. Where you start day one will be nowhere near where you finish after your four years are up. No matter what form of adversity presents itself, attack it with a never-give-up or allow-defeat mentality, and you will reach levels of success you never knew were possible. After my four years, I have been fortunate enough to learn what it takes to be successful on the field and in the classroom. It is simply caring more than your opponent and doing the work, and extra work it takes to be amongst the great.”

Captain of both the track and cross country teams and staff writer for The Weekly, Caitlin Kinnear ‘24, says, “Don’t limit yourself! Set high goals, remember that you’re capable of more than you think and you shouldn’t be afraid to push yourself. I’ve learned how to use hard days as motivation. Not every practice or track meet is going to go well but the times they haven’t have led me to be grateful for the times they have and to dwell on what I can do, not on what I can’t.”

“You are a vital and crucial asset to your team no matter your role. Embrace whatever cards you are dealt and don’t overthink anything too heavily. A four-year athletic commitment is made out of the love for our sport, so focus on that passion if or when times get hard. Collegiate-level athletics taught me that adversity can not stop someone who perseveres,” claims Elisabeth Loiselle ‘24, defender on the women’s lacrosse team and contributing writer to The Weekly.

Captain of the men’s basketball team, Brandon Goldberg ‘24 states, “My biggest advice to incoming freshman is to not take every day for granted. I remember when I was a freshman when the seniors were telling me that ‘time goes by fast’, and I didn’t believe them. And now here I am graduating in less than a month, and I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone by. So leave it all out on the field or court when you play”

Greenberg summarizes things succinctly, “None of our successes would be possible without the constant support we are fortunate enough to experience from our athletic department, athletic trainers, coaches, faculty and staff. It is a result of the hard work and dedication they give us daily that truly allows us to excel. A simple thank you wouldn’t nearly do the justice these extraordinary people deserve, but it is due to them that we have been able to compete and grow at such an extraordinary institution as Muhlenberg. Being a college athlete is extremely rare, and a huge accomplishment on its own, and being able to capitalize on any opportunities given to you will allow you to create a legacy, and continue to build on your own, personal story.”

So, soon enough you are there, and soon enough you are done. 

For that reason and all of the above advice, it means the most, to make the most of your time. It is an incredible honor to be able to play college sports. Take it all in. 

Go mules.

Olivia Oberman '24, a neuroscience major and member of the Muhlenberg women's soccer team. She enjoys meeting new people and listening to their stories!

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