The life of a retired athlete: How seniors spend final terms
By Lillian Maguire, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, March 26, 2012
No athlete would deny that his or her sport is a huge part of his or her identity at Dartmouth. When you spend that many hours with the same people working toward a common goal, it cannot help but be a significant part of your life. But when seniors finish their sports after Fall or Winter term, they must complete their final terms without the sport that formed the backbone of their Dartmouth experience.
Although most seniors do not practice with their teams after they have finished, the team still remains a big part of their lives at Dartmouth. Without daily practices, senior athletes have more time to explore a side of Dartmouth on which they may have missed out while they were active members of their teams.
Amber Bryant ’12 of the volleyball team said that although the seniors are done in the fall, they continue to play together for fun while mentoring the younger girls on the team.
“In the past, seniors have been pretty hands-off with the team after they’re done,” Bryant said. “But it’s nice because in the winter, the freshmen are able to get to know the seniors outside of volleyball and establish friendships with them.”
Bryant said that the seniors’ leadership positions wrap up after Fall term so that the juniors can take a bigger role in preparing the team for next year’s season. Usually the seniors do not attend practice with the team unless an extra position is needed.
To cure their volleyball fever this winter, the seniors coached a volleyball clinic for students at Hanover High School.
“It was so different not to have volleyball worked into my schedule,” Bryant said. “The clinic was a nice way to be together as a team and to play volleyball. I missed it.”
Bryant said that the free time that her new schedule afforded her was a nice change.
“Not being at specific places at specific times was kind of nice,” Bryant said. “With all that extra time, you get to enjoy Dartmouth in a different way.”
Although Bryant has more free time this spring, she will be spending most of it holed up in Thayer School of Engineering. She is currently trying to finish her Bachelor of Engineering degree in four years, which requires that she take three engineering classes this spring.
“Although my classes will take up a lot of time, the seniors are still hoping to get out on the Green with the men’s club volleyball team and play,” Bryant said. “We still want to enjoy our sport every chance we get.”
Unlike most fall senior athletes, Lucky Mkosana ’12 continued to practice with his team throughout the winter in order to train for the Major League Soccer Combine. Mkosana graduated early to play soccer professionally and currently resides in Chicago after the Chicago Fire drafted him in the second round of this year’s SuperDraft.
“I was training with the freshmen because I knew I was going to play after college, so I had to keep in shape for that,” Mkosana said. “It was fun playing with the freshmen. I trained with the Fire for a week during the winter, and I missed some school to be able to train with them and try out.”
Most of the sophomores and juniors on the soccer team take an off-term or go abroad in the winter, so it is a good time for the freshmen on the team to be coached individually, Mkosana explained. The seniors rarely participate in these practices, though some do stop by occasionally for some exercise.
“It’s a big time for freshmen bonding and for them to get to know the coaches better,” Mkosana said. “The seniors end their leadership positions in the fall and hand it over to the juniors.”
For the seniors who are not planning on continuing their soccer careers, Mkosana said the free time allows them to explore a different side of Dartmouth.
“The seniors do get to experience Dartmouth in a new way,” Mkosana said. “Most of the time in the spring we have a short season and we’re preparing for the next fall season, so as a senior you have so much more time to experience Dartmouth for yourself.”
Mkosana said that after the seniors’ careers wind down, they have a chance to branch out socially.
“Many times seniors will hang out more with their non-soccer friends who they do not see as much during the season,” Mkosana said. “The extra time really lets them enjoy their last term here.”
Although seniors have completed their competitive careers at Dartmouth, most do not stop playing sports entirely. Many continue to exercise and train for personal benefit and to see their former teammates.
Galen Barry ’12 said that although her swimming career ended this winter, she plans on staying active out of the water this spring.
“I love to run, so I’ll definitely be doing a lot of that this spring,” Barry said.
Barry also explained that the team’s returning members are encouraged to attend optional spring practices but the seniors are not expected to go.
“Some people like to go just to keep in shape, but it’s not required whatsoever,” Barry said.
As with the volleyball and soccer teams, the juniors take over the leadership positions on the swimming team at the end of the winter season.
“At the end of the term we have a big banquet where the new captains are named and the seniors step down,” Barry said. “This lets the juniors take on more of a central role for the spring.”
Barry said that although she will not be swimming this spring, her identity as a Dartmouth student will not change dramatically.
“Throughout our Dartmouth careers, the seniors have been involved with other things besides swimming, like Greek life and other extracurriculars, so we will continue to participate in those,” Barry said. “I’m still a swimmer at heart, so I don’t feel like my identity will change much.”
Barry’s transition out of the water will be made easier by the support of her teammates, she said.
“We have a big, close-knit senior class that will make the switch easier,” Barry said. “I’m also taking three classes this spring, so those will keep me busy.”
Barry is excited by the free time she will get to enjoy in the spring.
“I’ll definitely be enjoying a lot of the things we don’t get to do in season,” Barry said. “I plan on getting to know the Upper Valley area better and maybe exploring a little.”
Even without a sport for their final terms, the seniors will stay connected to their teams and find other outlets for their time.
“Dartmouth students always fill their time well, so we’ll have plenty to do,” Barry said.