Transfer Athletes Find Their Home

Jordan O’Roy, Staff Reporter

Whitman has 13 Varsity Sports, 254 varsity athletes, and of those athletes only eight are transfer students. Whitman’s transfer admission rate is an astonishing 35 percent, as students across the globe are searching to find a new home in which they can pursue their academic goals. However, for student athletes the transfer process is more challenging in more ways than one.

For starters the transfer process is a ripple effect that can be due to a multitude of factors; unfortunate events, social acceptance, community, academic requirements, and most commonly the school simply did not meet the student’s expectations. So the search begins for a new home, however, with athletes you aren’t just looking for a new home. We are looking to opportunize academic goals, team chemistry, sports programming and most importantly a place that allows personal growth and development not just as a student but as an athlete as well.

This past fall senior women’s volleyball captain Cherokee Washington graduated, and with graduation being a moment of reflection Washington looks back at her time here at Whitman. Washington originally attended Wingate University in North Carolina but transferred after a shocking turn of events, as Wingate’s head volleyball coach declared that they simply no longer had a spot for her on the roster. However, when push came to shove Washington wasn’t ready to give up her dream of playing collegiate volleyball, and the next thing you know she hadn’t just found her home here at Whitman, but she had found so much more.

“Being at Whitman has not only made me a better student in terms of academic abilities, but it has made me a better, stronger, more outspoken and confident person. That’s all great, but the most important experience I’ve had at Whitman was being part of the volleyball family. Coming in, I was skeptical as to whether I should even step foot on a court again after Wingate, but something told me I had to. This program, though it’s had its own bumps in the road, has taught me a multitude of lessons, brought amazing people into my life and taken me to unfathomable places.

I’m truly grateful for the relationships I’ve created with my coaches, the opportunities I’ve had to work with people like Olympians Logan Tom and Courtney Thompson, but I’m mostly grateful for the sisters I’ve gained throughout my time as an athlete. I walked into Whitman having been torn from my Wingate family, but I gained 12 new best friends, a number that has grown over the three years I attended Whitman and played volleyball. I’ve made some of my best friends on this team and I couldn’t be more thankful for them, all they’ve done for me, and allowed me to do for them in return,” Washington stated.

As student athletes we often hear that academics come first and yes that is how it should be, however, sometimes it is difficult to find that happy medium or balance between school and sports. Some schools don’t really support sports as they believe more in pursuing academic excellence, whereas some schools put athletes on pedestals allowing them to get by just enough with passing grades that qualify to still play. Now which way schools should portray athletics and academics is completely subjective, and instead relies more on the individual.

Most student athlete transfers are due to the failure of reaching the individual’s expectations in one of the two areas of athletics and academics. Therefore, when student athletes are looking to transfer they are searching for that happy medium that is most suitable to their academic and athletic goals. Sophomore men’s basketball player Sam Geschickter transferred from Bentley University in Massachusetts after deciding that even though Bentley had prestige academic excellence the basketball program was not meeting his expectations and was disabling his growth as a player.

“Improving as a player and growing as a person over my four years in college have always been the highest priorities for my family and me. I wasn’t seeing that happen within the basketball program at Bentley University as much as I wanted it too, so it was time for a change. I chose Whitman because I felt like there was something special about the basketball team and the local community here. When I first spoke to Coach Airy and Coach Bridgeland I could tell that they really care about the game, giving back to the community and helping the players they coach. It became an easy choice when I visited last spring and saw how close the team is and how dedicated to basketball they are,” Geschickter said.

As we begin our early years of college we are so set on planning the next four years of our lives that we don’t expect the unexpected. We become so focused on the choices that we’ve made and the future decisions that lie ahead of us that we are often blind to all the little expectations that we once had for ourselves. When this realization finally dawns upon us, we are forced to reflect on the choices we’ve made and ask ourselves if we are willing to continue down this path or if will we search for a new path. Sophomore baseball player Aidan Miller had a similar experience at Occidental College before transferring to Whitman.

“I was actually really excited to go to Occidental College, where I spent last year. When I got there I realized while it had a lot of little things I really enjoyed: good weather, in Los Angeles, pretty campus, but these little things didn’t really matter at the end if the big things like having a group of friends or being in a good place mentally weren’t being met. So I decided to transfer because I wasn’t very happy at Occidental, as I spent most of the year dealing with anxiety and just trying to survive. I wanted college to be a place where I would be happy and enjoying my experience rather just getting through it,” Miller explained.

Every student athlete that has transferred to Whitman has their own personal experiences and stories to tell. Transferring schools is never an easy process as there are a lot of transitions to be made, and as student athletes it can be very rare to find a school that not only has the academic excellence that we seek, but a team that we can eventually call our family. However, one thing that these few people have in common, is that they have found their home here at Whitman.