Three athletes reveal what it is like to play sports and study at SWIC
WRITTEN BY: NIHA URSANI, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, SWIC WEEKLY
Being a student athlete is a full-time job. Therefore, it is not easy to be good at both academics and the athlete’s chosen sport. Every student athlete spends at least 15 years in trying to train themselves to fulfill their dream of playing in college. All these years of hard work and patience finally pays off when these young adults/athletes are given the opportunity to play a sport in college.
Among these people at Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) is William Berger, who has been playing basketball for the last 12 years. Berger has dreamed about playing college basketball since he was in fifth grade.
“As I grew older, I realized that if I work hard, I might have the opportunity to play in college,” said Berger.
Before starting school at SWIC, Berger used to go to school at Webster University where he used to play on the school’s men’s basketball team. Berger also mentioned that the advantages of being a college athlete at Webster and SWIC are almost the same.
“By being a college athlete, you don’t have to worry about paying your tuition, since you receive a scholarship. Another thing that I like the most is that there is an athletic center, underneath the gymnasium, and it is a very nice place to get your homework done and also to socialize with other athletes.”
Berger has always challenged himself by playing basketball. He said that he was discouraged by every other person in his life for playing basketball.
“People told me that I would never make it. In fifth grade, I scored 2 points the whole season, even when my father was the coach of the team. I think what makes me happy now is that I proved everyone wrong,” Berger said.
Berger also mentioned that college athletes receive a lot of invitations from other colleges to play for them.
“I got a call from the University of California Santa Barbara assistant coach Kevin Bramley and he told me if I had a good senior year, they would see what they could do for me the following year.”
During these 12 years of playing basketball, Berger has suffered from stress fractures in both of his shins, right below his knee cap. Even after this injury, Berger has continued to play basketball and is hoping to play basketball in the near future as well.
Speaking of the future, there is an 18 year old, Marc Rodriguez, who has been playing baseball since he was only 3 years old. He not only plays baseball but also basketball and hockey on the side.
“It helps to maintain my endurance and keep in shape,” said Rodriguez, explaining the reason why he plays two other sports besides baseball.
Like every other college athlete, Rodriguez has also thought about playing baseball at a higher level.
“Playing pro baseball has always been a dream of mine. I train myself and work really hard,” said Rodriguez. “If the opportunity comes up to where I can play pro ball, I will definitely take it.”
Rodriguez, a recent high school graduate, made SWIC’s baseball team within no time.
“What motivates me the most is the love for the game. Baseball is my type of drug; it’s so addicting,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez describes the advantages of being an athlete, by saying, “You receive a lot of scholarships, not only from the college that you are currently enrolled in but from other colleges as well. Another thing that I like the most is that you can sign up for classes early, which also means that you don’t have to wait for an hour at the Academic Advising office. It is also good to stay connected with other college athletes.”
Rodriguez is a pitcher, a position he embraces. As he put it, “Being a pitcher, I love the pressure of tight situations.”
Another athlete, Luan Barbosa Santana, a 22 year old, flew all the way from Brazil, South America, to Belleville, Illinois, to play soccer at SWIC and to also pursue his education. Santana has been playing soccer for more than 17 years.
“What motivates me the most to play soccer is the culture that I grew up in. In my country, Brazil, playing soccer is considered to be a big thing and every single boy dreams to play soccer professionally. Every other boy, I have dreamed about playing soccer professionally, not because you can earn a lot of money, but it is something that I love to do,” said Santana.
Santana also described the benefits of being an athlete, echoing the remarks made by Rodriguez and Berger. Said Santana, “By being an athlete, you make a lot of friends, you learn a lot, you learn to be a leader and, most importantly, you learn to work in a team. Apart from this, you receive a lot of scholarships and SWIC also provides accommodation for its athletes”
Santana loves to play soccer, but at the same time he is ambitious enough to receive a degree in Engineering.
“I have dreamed of being a pro soccer player since I was little,” he said. “I still think about it sometimes, but then I remind myself that a career in Engineering would be more beneficial for me in the future.”
Every athlete at SWIC has spent years and years to train themselves to be where they are right now. Even while they are at SWIC, they are still training themselves so that they can get scholarships when they transfer to another college.