As the 2016-17 school year nears the end, it also marks the end of many athletes’ last ever college season with a sport that they have dedicated countless hours to. It is a bittersweet end for many; after four years at a collegiate level of competition, it’s a large change to not compete in that way anymore. Many of these UAA athletes are now graduating with a degree to start their future in, but some still have to stay and finish their degrees with no more eligibility left.
To get a glimpse into the lives of these soon-to-graduate college athletes, alpine skier Miranda Sheely, men’s basketball guard Spencer Svejcar and volleyball’s setter Morgan Hooe shared their experiences.
Women’s Skiing – Miranda Sheely
Originally from Frisco, Colorado, Miranda Sheely has always been in a skiing location, which is shown by the fact that she’s been skiing a large majority of her life. She originally learned to ski when she was only two years old and began competing in the sport at the young age of five.
Skiing has always been one of the most important aspects of Sheely’s life and coming to UAA to compete and earn her degree only added to the significance. Now that she finished her last year of eligibility, Sheely described how devastating it is knowing it’s all over.
“The worst [thing about running out of eligibility] would be leaving my team. I grew so close to each and every one of them. They are my family, and I will really miss suffering through fall training with them. All the cold and rainy days but also enjoying the sunny days and traveling together,” Sheely said.
Although it’s all over and she’s moving into a new chapter in her life, Sheely will always look back fondly on all the people she was able to meet from all over the world that skiing at UAA introduced to her.
However, if there was something Sheely wished she could tell herself four years ago it would be to cherish every day.
“I wish I would have known how fast it would fly by, and to try my hardest every day and always take that extra run because all four years flew by,” Sheely said.
As for now, Sheely is one of many athletes that run out of eligibility but still have to finish their degree. She plans to stay in Alaska for the foreseeable future to finish her degree and find a job in therapeutic recreation, and, of course, continue skiing for fun.
Men’s Basketball – Spencer Svejcar
Spencer Svejcar, another Colorado local, came to UAA to play as a guard on the men’s basketball team. In addition, Svejcar has been pursing his degree in physical education. Being a full-time student is already a large responsibility, but adding a sport on top it was something Svejcar wasn’t initially prepared for.
“I wish I would have known how hard you have to work every single day and had a better understanding of how important it is to manage your time properly so you can get athletics and schoolwork done every day when I came into it years ago. I had to get to a whole new level of work ethic once I realized what it actually takes to play college sports,” Svejcar said.
However, the hard work and time commitment never turned Svejcar away from basketball. This is the sport he had grown up with, playing since he was five and beginning to compete for YMCA ball in kindergarten.
For Svejcar, all the hard work and dedication was worth it in the end.
“The best thing was being able to travel around the country to places I had never been and experience things I had never experienced. Also, being able to try and work as hard as possible for four years to perfect a certain craft and put myself into the position I am today was really rewarding,” Svejcar said.
But even behind the glamorous travel and the lifelong friends, there was intense hours of long training. Svejcar and his teammates were only in competition from November until March of every year, which meant the rest of the time was spent in the gym and the weight room putting in work. Svejcar recalled that the worst part of college athletics was the off-season and pre-season training.
Unlike Sheely, Svejcar doesn’t want to give up his sport just yet. Although he has more credits to take to finish his degree, Svejcar plans to continue training and then pursue a professional basketball career in Europe.
When basketball is all over and done competitively in his life, Svejcar wants to finish his degree and get a job in the lower 48.
Volleyball – Morgan Hooe
Similar to Svejcar, Morgan Hooe just finished up her eligibility and instead of leaving competitive volleyball behind indefinitely, she wants to head to Europe to pursue professional volleyball.
However, those plans for Europe are on a temporary wait list in Hooe’s life while she focuses on her last stretch of school. She has until spring of 2018 to graduate with her degree in physical education.
While she continues taking classes to finish up, Hooe will continue training and staying in shape to be prepared for a professional level of volleyball. Although the collegiate level is a step down from that, Hooe got an introduction to a high level of competition and other perks along the way.
“The best part about competing [at UAA] would definitely be how fast and competitive the level of play is and the opportunity it gives you to make new friends and travel all around the United States and the world,” Hooe said.
However, as many other student-athletes would agree, Hooe recalled that she missed out on many hours of sleep and a lack of a social life to be able to focus on her athletics and academics. Hooe and her team generally had two practices a day as well as five required sessions in the weight room a week, which she maintained for four years straight. Regardless, Hooe learned many valuable things from being a student-athlete.
“I wish I would have known before I got here that that you will constantly improve over your four years and that you won’t be the best overnight. You have to work on yourself and your game each and every day if you want to be the best,” Hooe said.