Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Notes from Under the Oaks | March 2014

Do you consider yourself an athlete? A former athlete? An athlete at heart? A Monday morning quarterback? A couch potato waiting for the right challenge?
In the interest of full disclosure I’ll confess, I've never considered myself an athlete. In fact, I was actually asked to leave my PE class in 10th grade for refusing to play basketball. I now reflect on this moment of rebellion with humor and a healthy dose of embarrassment. I never played team sports, but I have had two big athletic moments as an adult-- in 2005 I rode a bicycle from Portland to San Francisco and in 2010 I ran a (slow) marathon.
Given my lack of athletic background, I was especially honored to have the chance to participate in an event last week where we connected some of our athletics alumni with our current athletes. About fifty percent of Pacific undergraduate students participate in either varsity, intramural or club sports. I'm willing to wager that number goes even higher when you consider the athletic careers of both our undergraduate and graduate students in high school or at another University.

At Career Launch, we tried to tap into what all that sports activity gives a person. We knew it was more than just knowledge of how to play a game and we had some idea of what our alumni might share as they were providing advice to students on how to use their athletics experience as they begin to navigate professional life. For example -- the ability to be an effective part of a team or how to use competitive spirit to one's advantage.

The panel was going great -- each of the alumni had great things to say and students were taking notes. Then my classmate Cisco Reyes '03 spoke and said something that shaped the way everyone in the room saw the evening. He said, “to succeed you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable."

Suddenly every student in the room relaxed ever so slightly. Someone had just given them permission to feel the anxiety most of them must have been feeling. And in that moment every one of them was infused with a shot of confidence. It was the career development equivalent of the moment just after a touchdown.
After a decade spent working on college campuses I feel privileged to have witnessed the transformational impact of athletics on students who otherwise may not have considered college. Sports aren't simply a doorway to college -- they are a window through which students can visualize themselves at college on a path to graduate school and/or a successful career.
Athletic achievements are in themselves life changing. When I pedaled across the Golden Gate Bridge on that foggy July day, I knew anything was possible. If I could cycle 800 miles, I could do anything. I not only channeled that energy when I ran my (slow) marathon, I use it every time I face a challenge at work and in every sleep-deprived moment of parenting young children.
I'd love to hear your sports story. Are you like me -- 100% clumsy, but realized later in life that running doesn't require hand-eye coordination? Or were you an athlete in high school and/or college? How did sports shape who you are?
I look forward to hearing your sports stories -- especially the tall tales about the Cannery Field.
Keep in touch and best wishes,
Martha Calus-McLain '03
Director of Alumni Relations
P.S. I’d be remiss if I didn’t encourage alumni who are interested in supporting athletics at Pacific, thus providing transformational experiences to future students, to join Boxer Club.

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