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College senior athletes share their stories

| Friday, November 18, 2016

Saint Mary’s hosted “Why We Play” on Wednesday, a event that gave three senior athletes the opportunity to share their stories about the sport they love.

Senior Lisa Felix said she began to play soccer when she was only 6 years old because her brothers did, and she wanted to be just like them. However, she soon found her own interest in the game.

“After many juice boxes and orange slices, I found myself falling in love with the family sport,” she said.

When it came time to try out for her high school team, Felix said she felt more pressure within the sport. But she ended up making the varsity team right off the bat.

“I didn’t want to let my family down,” she said. “I had a lot to prove my freshman year.”

Even after four years of becoming close with her high school team, Felix said she was hesitant to join a new team at Saint Mary’s.

“I was worried of really finding my niche,” she said. “I thought starting over was terrifying.”

But those fears vanished quickly, she added, when the teammates realized they all shared one thing in common — a love for soccer.

“Being a Saint Mary’s athlete will carry so much more than a winning or losing record,” she said.

Senior Kathryn Marshall said when she was 16, she had hip surgery that forced her to stop running cross country for a long time.

Editor’s note: Kathryn Marshall is a news writer for the Observer.

Getting back in the game, Marshall said, was not easy.

“I don’t know if you know this, but when you’re not in shape, running kind of stinks,” she said. “ … I had a big decision to make. Despite my injury, I still had a love for the sport.”  

Marshall said she loved dynamic of the Saint Mary’s cross country team — a mixture of competitiveness and support.

“You support each other,” she said. “But let’s be honest — on the straightaway, you aren’t going to let another Belle pass you.”

Marshall said running with her team is more than just practice: It’s a breather from the worries of day-to-day life.

“It’s a time and place to focus on something a little bit simpler — running,” she said.

Senior Alexis Grady, a volleyball player, said for her, sports have always been a family affair.

“I always had a full support system in the stands,” she said.

Grady said she faced challenges during first two years at Saint Mary’s. She didn’t get as much playing time and ran into differences with her coach at times.

“I wanted to quit,” she said. “My love for the game was dwindling.”

But the former Belles volleyball coach left during the summer between Grady’s sophomore and junior year.

And then, Grady said, a “small and mighty lady,” new head coach Denise Van De Walle, found the team and turned it around for the better.

“The Belles were a new team. We had a new mindset,” Grady said. “She pushed us to be not only better players but better people.”

Grady said she was proud of herself and her teammates, who were with her from the beginning to the end of her collegiate athletic career.

“The sport has made me a better person,” she added. “The memories we have made, both good and bad — they will carry forever.”

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