Early Monday morning, thousands of nervously excited University of Oregon seniors dawned their dark green gowns, caps, variously colored sashes, tassels, and chords. While some made their way directly to Johnson Hall at the center of campus, others (myself included) met at the local drinking hole, Taylor’s Bar & Grill, for pictures, funny banter, conversation, and yes, some morning mimosa’s as one last hurrah before all heading down 13th towards Matthew Knight Arena for commencement.
As the speakers spoke, individual major graduations concluded, and the reality of ‘this being the end’ drew nearer, I truly began to understand just how big of an accomplishment as well as what a momentous, life changing event college graduation is on one’s life. The last four years of what I considered my life was now over, and that a new chapter had abruptly begun.
In the midst of all of this, I then suddenly remembered, “I have an article due in a couple days!”
With this life altering feeling still weighing heavily on my mind, I began thinking about it in terms of the student-athlete.
Now, while some have the NFL, NBA, and MLB, the majority of our student-athletes do not have these professional leagues to look forward to when college is over. They commit nearly their entire lives to a particular sport and lifestyle; constantly training, traveling, and competing. Then suddenly after graduation, its all over.
One summer you’re training for the Olympics trials, the next you’re out looking for a day job. Talk about life altering.
It is without a doubt a lot all at once, and an incredibly challenging adjustment that the majority of students simply cannot relate.
“Even though I have only ended lacrosse two months ago, I am missing being able to pick up a stick and feel that joy it brought me,” said Ashley Inman, midfielder for the women’s lacrosse team regarding the cessation of her Division I athletic career.
During her time on the Duck’s lacrosse squad, which finished fifth this season in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, Inman tallied a total of 24 points, with 14 goals and 10 assists.
“It is a weird thing having to say goodbye to your friends and teammates that you see everyday,” she said. “Right now, it totally has not hit me that I will not be back up to Oregon next year. It feels like I am on summer break and will see them in the fall, but I know that when August and September hit, I will be missing them.”
Inman points out a reality which every graduating senior must come to terms with, yet is more than likely, still in denial about.
Although graduating is certainly nerve-racking, exciting, and at times a little depressing, one must remember the lessons learned during their time in school. Of course these lessons are not solely restricted to the confines of a classroom.
For some, they take place during club activities, random house parties, or intriguing conversations with friends. For Inman, much of her education took place in the weight room, and during intense competition on the field against high-caliber teams such as Stanford and Denver.
“Playing a Division I sport has taught me how to work hard day in and day out,” Inman said. ”One of the biggest things playing lacrosse taught me was that time management is an important part of life.”
Inman has certainly taken those lessons to heart and has applied them to life after college.
Currently, she is back in San Diego helping coach a high school girls Lacrosse club team.
“Now I am able to take that joy that I had for so many years and pay it back to middle and high school girls through my experience and knowledge of the game,” reported Inman on her current coaching position. However, this elite midfielder is not simply limiting herself to a life of coaching. Instead, she is pursuing a career in a multitude of departments including a job in the data analysis (or computer technology) field, and a position in the sports world.
Inman is, of course, just one of many excellent student athletes among the graduating class of 2013. This class has produced some incredibly remarkable, record-breaking individuals.
Athletes like Jessica Moore, who became one of Oregon’s greatest softball pitchers ever. She led her 2013 team to a 50-11 season, in which the Ducks advanced all the way to the NCAA Super Regionals.
Or Haley Jacob, who received recognition as one of the nation’s top liberos (a defensive specialist position in indoor volleyball) and was selected to the 2012 USA Volleyball National Team.
Or Jordan Hasay, who during her time at Oregon, achieved 15 All-American titles and became the most decorated runner in school history.
This senior class has produced some of Oregon’s most successful athletes in school history; Obtaining national recognition, along with multiple prestigious awards and championships. Like Inman, these Ducks will similarly push themselves to confront new challenges, of which many will be surmounted; a circumstance that is by no means limited merely to the athletes, but will undoubtedly be replicated by all those wearing the Oregon “O” over their hearts as they embark out on a new journey.