By Spencer Song
Student-athletes from Loyola’s class of 2015 are currently in mid-season competition at colleges across the country. The Loyalist caught up with six alumni to find out about life as a first semester college athlete.
Troy Dixon, Lafayette
Troy Dixon said that he is “looking forward to having a bigger impact on the field.” Inspired by the team’s first season win over Wagner, Dixon believes that “getting that win really helped team morale.” Lafayette will conclude their season against bitter rival Lehigh, continuing the longest college rivalry in the country with its 151st anniversary.
Joe Bolin, UCLA
Similarly, a freshman offensive tackle at UCLA, Joe Bolin ’15 is also “looking forward to the experience that [he is]going to get with the tough work and the demand that it takes going through school with football.” Reflecting on his season thus far, Bolin said, “My favorite game was definitely the Cal game. After two losses, it felt good to come back to what we set out to do.” The Bruins currently have an 8-3 record after defeating No. 13 Utah on Saturday, Nov. 21. This Saturday, Nov. 28, the Bruins will compete against USC, their cross-town rival, at the Coliseum.
Robert Brandt, UC Berkeley
Throughout most of the season, Robert Brandt has been finishing as either Berkeley’s fourth or fifth man, helping the team finish third at the Roy Griak Invitational and seventh at Pre-Nationals. After finishing fourth individually for Cal at the NCAA West Regional Championships, Brandt helped the Bears qualify for the 2015 NCAA Cross-Country Championships.
Reflecting on his Loyola experience, Brandt said, “Coach Diaz really made me fall in love with the sport. One thing I really enjoy about running is the competition. A lot of running is just mental strength, and Coach Diaz taught me the importance of dedication to the sport and the tough mental state you need.”
Nicolaus Jakowec, USC
Nicolaus Jakowec runs both the 5k and steeplechase, a 3,000 meter obstacle course with 28 hurdles and seven sections of water to run through. Jakowec noted that he enjoys learning from his teammates and striving to become both a better runner and person.
Jakowec offered advice to current Loyola students when balancing their time commitments: “I think every student has their own personal challenges and goals, and athletes shouldn’t be considered the hardest working or the busiest students on campus. For example, if you commit yourself to the school paper, a community service organization or some other extracurricular, you still get out what you put into it, and I think that goes for everything in both college and life.”
Ryan Wilson, Princeton University
Water polo player Ryan Wilson ’15 is an economics major who now competes at Princeton University. Wilson practices for approximately 30 hours a week, and he “pretty much [has]to live in the library to stay on top of [his]work.” His water polo teammates have become family to him, and the teammates steadily support each other to get through the academically competitive environment. The 11th-ranked Princeton Tigers competed on Nov. 20, beating Bucknell 11-7 and improving their record to 20-4. Wilson accumulated three goals, two steals, and two assists. The Tigers won on Saturday, Nov. 21 to qualify for the CWPA Championships on Sunday, Nov. 22, where they defeated Johns Hopkins in a narrow victory of 7-6.
Sean Thomas, Pepperdine
Sean Thomas ’15, the center defender on the Pepperdine water polo team, says that many student-athletes are held to higher standards, but “it is just another challenge that student-athletes have to face.” As a biology major with a concentration in pre-med, a big change for Thomas is the difference in time commitments between high school and college. But even with these new challenges, he is excited to move on to a new era with new experiences in his life, especially being coached by Terry Schroeder, a former Olympian. The Pepperdine water polo team has had a rocky season but is looking to learn from the past and keep improving, according to Thomas.