College Athlete Alums Return to The Hill to Share Knowledge and Experience

Panelists Marina Crownover ’22 (University of Texas at Austin, Volleyball), Kendall Dowd ’22 (Stanford University, Field Hockey), Matthew Hutchison ’21 (Cornell University, Soccer), Cooper Nichols ’22 (College of Wooster, Lacrosse), Jayan Nitzsche ’21 (Pomona College, Cross Country/Track and Field) and Abbie Prewitt ’21 (Occidental College, Lacrosse) did not hold back when they recently returned to campus to help current Spartans. They fielded questions and candidly discussed numerous topics with Upper School student-athletes, from their recruiting journeys to the hard work it takes to excel academically and on the court or field. 

Dowd, who played three sports at St. Stephen’s, remembers how much she benefited from the alumni athlete panel days when she was an Upper School student, and was thrilled to be able to help younger Spartans.

“It’s nice to come back,” said Dowd. “I’ve enjoyed it and I love being able to help them. It makes me smile just to see everyone in their natural habitat.”

A popular question from some of the students was what the transition from high school to college is like, on the athletics side.

“I found it tough,” said Hutchison. “I’m sure those of you who are here are pretty good at what you do for high school, so coming in and not being one of the top players on your team, first time experiencing being on a bench, stuff like that, is definitely tough…you just have to come in with the right mindset and expectations knowing that there are going to be ups and downs throughout a season and throughout your four years.”

The Spartan alums offered various perspectives on managing their time while juggling classes, their sport, clubs and their social lives. 

“Being a student-athlete is like a full-time job so if you’re not at practice or not at school, you have meetings with coaches, meetings with nutritionists, you’re working out, you’re doing all these things and if you want to add a social life in there, you barely have time for that,” said Crownover.

Other athletes on the panel described a different college experience.

“I really like to be involved and busy, honestly,” Prewitt told the students. “I have two jobs in addition to clubs and I would like to think I have a pretty good social life–and I sleep! It’s actually amazing.”

In addition, the panelists expressed how rewarding it is to represent their universities, build lasting relationships with teammates and coaches, and train their bodies and minds to compete in the NCAA.

“I’m so grateful for Jayan, Cooper, Hutch, Kendall, Marina, and Abbie!” said Chelsea Richards, SSES associate athletic director. “Not only was it rewarding to hear about their transitions to college athletics, but it was also great to hear their advice to younger athletes navigating the college recruiting process.”
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