As we approach the end of the 2019 spring semester, many student-athletes are coming to the end of their time on a Willamette Bearcat team. A few seniors spoke about their experiences as Bearcats.
Long distance and cross country runner Hazel Carr called her experiences at Willamette very positive “because of the people I have gotten to surround myself with every day.”
The athletes that competed with her on the cross country team worked together to win the Northwest Conference (NWC) Title in October 2018, which Carr recalls as her “proudest accomplishment as a Bearcat.”
She also mentioned her performance as a first-year during the cross country national championship, where she placed 10th in the nation. Graduating with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry, Carr will move to Australia in the fall to become a field technician for the Samsonvale Bird Project.
Playing for Willamette has helped softball player Emily Bishop develop as a person “on and off the field,” as she said. “Willamette softball culture teaches us how to become better players, but really emphasizes what it means to be a great teammate and overall better person.”
Bishop is proud of herself and her teammates who pushed through the long softball season, which started in the fall and ended two weeks ago. After graduating, Bishop will take a year off from school before applying to graduate school for physical therapy.
As for softball, she hopes to become a coach one day ,“to teach the next generation of girls everything I have learned from the game.”
Another athlete who found his time at Willamette rewarding is golfer Trent Jones. Riding high after the Bearcats played inthe NWC tournament last weekend and won the overall NWC championship, Jones spoke of his personal growth as well as his teammates’, over the past four years.
“Every year was different, but we always managed to create an identity that we were proud to be a part of,” Jones said.
Jones will be attending the University of Oregon next year to pursue a Masters in applied physics, and plans to participate in amateur golf tournaments in his free time. Women’s tennis player Alexis Gjurasic has experienced her share of ups and downs while playing for Willamette. She described her first two years as “tough.” The entire team was made of first-years and sophomores struggling through both seasons. However, “the past two years of the program have seen great improvement, particularly with the hiring of our new coach, Bryce Parmelly. We have met his demands of us, and it has shown in our results.”
This led them to have the best season Willamette has seen in 10 years. Gjurasic said her proudest performance was her match against Puget Sound this season, where she peaked in her performance for the season.
“The breakthrough had to do with getting out of my head and relying on my body,” Gjurasic said. Gjurasic will teach in Luxembourg next year as a Fulbright Scholar. As for tennis, she says, “I intend to play in leagues at home for many years to come.”
Winning or losing, the athletes of Willamette University achieve personal and professional growth through the support they receive from their teammates and coaches. These experiences will aid them as they continue on with their future endeavors.