Home2018-2019Reflections from the volleyball and soccer seniors

Reflections from the volleyball and soccer seniors

JARIN KOBASHIGAWA

SPORTS EDITOR

Two weekends ago, volleyball and soccer both ended their seasons. With this, a total of four seniors from volleyball, six seniors from men’s soccer and five seniors from women’s soccer concluded their college careers. Seniors Dreux Bertolucci (volleyball), Jo Stensaas (volleyball), Kate Matthews (women’s soccer), Karmen Chavez-Sam (women’s soccer) and Quinn Mello-Bastida (men’s soccer) commented on the past season and gave a few last words of advice to the underclassmen.

To kick things off, the seniors were asked what advice they have for the players who will return for the 2019 season. Chavez-Sam summed up majority of the responses. “Time flies and we get old fast! Cherish every moment with this team,” she said.

Her soccer teammate Matthews said, “We have created a really great team culture of support, and I would encourage our team to really strive to continue with that goal in mind, because without support off the field, we can’t be there for each other through the successes and failures on the field.”

Bertolucci said, “There is always something to smile about and know that anything you face with this outlook will help you become a better person, not just a better volleyball player.”

Mello-Bastida said, “I would tell them to remain committed to being the best. Though the season didn’t end the way we wanted to, it should not discourage us. Instead it should inspire us to work even harder.”

The seniors that were interviewed are definitely proud of their teams and what they accomplished. When asked what moment in particular they were proud of, this is how they responded. Stensaas said, “Beating the University of Puget Sound at the end of our season in a three game sweep showed how much we had improved this season and what the rest of the team will be able to accomplish next year.”

Bertolucci said, “Our senior night at home versus University of Puget Sound … For that to be one of my first and only games to play in fully and for us to sweep a higher ranked team meant the world to me that my teammates were able to experience that happiness with me.”

Matthews said, “When we are getting ready for a home game and dancing to some of the warm-up songs right before the game starts to get some of the pre-game jitters out. The silliness and sheer normalcy of it is what makes it one of my favorite moments.”

Chavez-Sam had a similar response to Matthews saying, “I also love every little, silly moment that we share, whether it’s pre-game head-banging to ‘Fireflies’ by Owl City, getting excited every time we see each other in the library or teasing each other.”

Mello-Bastida said, “One moment that sticks out was when we played Wisconsin Lutheran… We were down 3-0 with 20 minutes left and we manage to score 4 goals in the time frame to win. It showed that we have the ability to correct our mistakes and overcome a huge obstacle.”

It tends to be the case where athletes who are playing college level sports have developed some attachment to the game itself over the years. The senior responded to the question about how their sport has impacted their lives. Mello-Bastida said, “The game has taught me so much about life. It has shown me that success is never guaranteed, even if you work your hardest. But if you don’t work your hardest, you have zero chance of success.”

Stensaas said, “The best thing I gained from playing volleyball at Willamette is the friendship of my teammates. Our team is so close and that is something that I will be able to count on much longer than the span of a season. I have learned so much for them and continue to be motivated and inspired by all of their accomplishments.”

Bertolucci said, “It has been the outlet that throughout high school especially, I needed to feel like it was my space that I enjoyed and nobody could change that or take away volleyball from me.”

Chavez-Sam said, “Through soccer, I have learned so much about teamwork, communication, leadership, hard work and support—skills that have helped me grow into the person I am today.”

Matthews said, “Soccer honestly teaches really important life lessons. How to lose and win gracefully, how to be a supportive teammate, conflict resolution, how to be a team player and many more such lessons.”

The seniors commented on what they will miss the most about playing at WU. Chavez-Sam said, “My team. In all my years of soccer, I have never been a part of such a special and loving team. They are basically my second family, and the love we have for each other shows on the field. We sprint for each other, we go hard into tackles for each other, and we work hard to support each other on and off the field. I love playing soccer in general, but playing with this team has made me love soccer even more. I’m really, really going to miss playing with this inspiring, silly and strong group of women. They’ve really made my years at WU unforgettable.”

Matthews said, “I will miss my teammates the most. They are the people who motivate me to play my best and be the best person I can be, on and off the field.”

Mello-Bastida said, “The thing I’ll miss the most are game days. Waking up, excited to step on the pitch and make a difference, and representing the school.”

Stensaas said, “I will miss being competitive on a team. The girls that I got to play with were extremely dedicated and talented and constantly inspired me to play better.”

Bertolucci said, “What I will miss most about playing for Willamette is my teammates, and being there for all of them. Each team I’ve played on throughout my college career has impacted me in some way, but this team has given me some of the closest friends that I could never replace.”

Out of curiosity, they were asked if they would continue to play or coach for their sport after graduating. Mello-Bastida said, “I have been lucky to have some professional opportunities to play overseas and in South America that I will be reviewing over the course of the next year while I finish grad school.”

Bertolucci said, “As far as continuing to play, I’ve had a chronic back injury since my junior year of high school, and I’m extremely thankful that I was able to play all four of my years in college… I think it will be best for me to channel my love for the sport into coaching in order to take care of my body and look into my post-playing options for recovery.”

Matthews said, “I will probably coach eventually, but for now I will most likely play pick-up soccer or play on a semi-pro team.”

Chavez-Sam said, “I’d miss the game too much, so this isn’t the end for me. I want to continue playing in competitive adult leagues and indoor soccer leagues.”

jtkobashigawa@willamette.edu


Courtesy of Dreux Bertolucci
Seniors Dreux Bertolucci (top left), Larsen Fellows (top right), Morgan Webster (bottom left) and Jo Stensaas (bottom right) concluded their college careers on Nov. 3.

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