Inside Athletics

Emily Newton - Senior Reflection 2017

Emily Newton - Senior Reflection 2017

Growing up I enjoyed being active and played soccer, softball, lacrosse, and volleyball. Interestingly, all these sports had something in common. All were team sports. I loved the camaraderie, competition, and support my teammates inspired. As I got older, I narrowed sports to just a few. When I started looking for a university to attend, I knew that there was one thing I wanted to continue: my identity as an athlete. I love volleyball because of the game, the team, and the competition. I knew volleyball was the sport I wanted to play in college.

In searching for schools, I focused on finding a school where I felt at home because I wanted a school on the east coast and I lived in California. I looked for an academically strong university with a volleyball team that focused on the student-athlete, not just the athlete. I discovered Carnegie Mellon. I quickly found more than just an incredible academic university, I found a family and a place where I could continue to play the game I loved.

Like any freshmen going to college for the first time, I worried about making friends in a totally new place. As I pulled up to campus and ran to “open gym practice” with a few people from the team, my worries faded away. By the time I was walking back from the gym with my new teammates, we were talking and I knew that we would become friends.

As my first preseason continued, I felt I had a new extended family which included not only my teammates, but also the coaching staff. All the incoming freshmen felt welcomed and loved by our coaches and teammates. I knew instantly that I made the right decision in choosing CMU and its athletic program. My coaches not only cared about my athletic performance, but shaped me into a better leader while helping me and my teammates with academic needs or mental stress relief. The coaches were supportive on and off the court. When needed, they would make sure that teachers were aware of the volleyball schedule and help us make arrangements to take tests if traveling for matches. They offered to drive me to the airport when I traveled home, and invited the team over for dinner. They provided me with the opportunity to test my leadership abilities by nominating me for the CMU Student-Athlete Advisory Council. Through this Council, I became more involved in campus events and campus organizations. On the court, our coaches pushed us to be better: better players, better teammates, better friends, and better leaders. Importantly, the coaches remembered to sprinkle fun into the mix. I am grateful to have played for these coaches because their passion for the game rubbed off on me every day.

Carnegie Mellon Athletics does more than just provide students with the means to play a sport.  The athletics department shapes athletes into campus leaders through leadership programs (One Love, SMART program), speakers (Greg Shelley), and volunteering events (Special Olympics, Field Day). These opportunities give athletes more outlets to grow as members of the CMU community, and if desired, a groundwork to take on a leadership role. Not only did the Carnegie Mellon Athletics Department teach me leadership skills and help me get involved in one council, but helped me take on leadership roles and get involved in other councils and clubs. I have used the skills that I have been taught to become a better leader on the team and in different clubs.  These skills also assisted with my confidence and organization in my summer internships.

With a supportive coaching staff, encouraging community, and a driven team, CMU volleyball has been able to reach new heights over my last four years. We have had two NCAA appearances and have been nationally ranked and recognized for many weeks in many seasons. This was only possible with a group of women and coaches who were passionate about the game, who were driven to achieve a common goal and who worked hard for the team’s success.

It is bittersweet as a senior looking back at the experience that I had at CMU as a student-athlete. I am sad to move on from the game I love, the team I love, and the coaches I love. I know and appreciate that the CMU athletic program has helped form me into the leader, student, player, and woman I am today. I thank my teammates, my coaches, and the athletics department for all of the opportunities I have received through the CMU athletic program. I will fondly remember my four years as a student-athlete at Carnegie Mellon.