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Alumni discuss college athletics

To the four alumni who visited Weston High School last Wednesday for a panel on the importance of athletics, sports is family and pleasure spiked with brotherhood, sisterhood and sweat.

Presented by the Weston Sports Commission, four former Weston High School graduates – Danny Seymour, Morgan Faller, Brittany Swanson, and Spencer Kelley – spoke to athletes, parents and coaches at the Weston High School cafeteria on May 16 for the fourth annual college athlete discussion panel. All four shed a frank but honest look at the life of a high school athlete entering college sports for the first time.

“You may feel high and mighty though the honest truth is you’re no one to anyone in the beginning,” said Faller, who plays lacrosse for Marist College. “No one in college knows who you are or what your high school record was.”

Kelley, a swimmer who transferred from Washington College to Marist , admitted to feeling overwhelmed when he left a Division III school for a Division I university. According to Kelley, the transition from high school to college was already jarring enough.

“Going into a Division III university right after high school, I thought it’d be easier, and that their times would be slower, but I was dead-wrong,” said Kelley. “It’s a whole lot of hard work regardless of what division you’re in.”

Faller agreed with Kelley. However, both thought tense moments are necessary, both on and off the field.

“Your team is a family,” said Faller. “Being a college athlete teaches you mental toughness, and not just in sports.”

Mental toughness was a common theme for all four alumni. Kelley said a death on his team this year reinforced sports’ tendency to unite even in stressful situations.

“Our teammate was only 19 years old when he passed,” said Kelley. “There are pictures of him all over the locker room, and his family still comes to our games.”

Swanson, a girls’ lacrosse player for NCAA tournament regulars University of Pennsylvania, experienced similar odds in her first year at UPenn.

“The coach gave us a practice packet with exercises I had never seen before,” said Swanson. “As a first year player, you also get really accustomed to standing on the sidelines.”

Swanson said the constant sidelining can be frustrating and confidence-killing, especially to a high school athlete used to playing full games.

“They pull you out, then they put you back in only to pull you out again moments later,” said Swanson. “You really don’t know what the coach is thinking.”

Faller said athletes shouldn’t expect college coaches to be nearly as accommodating as their high school coaches.

“At Weston my coach was like a second father,” said Faller. “He’s not your friend anymore in college, because they play to win.”

Injecting humor into the panel, Middlebury College baseball captain Seymour described himself as a “goofy kid” who was elected captain to the “surprise of himself and almost everyone on the team.” However, he also reflected positively on sports’ tendency to teach athletes life skills, whether they realize it or not.

“The most valuable talent a person learns from sports is time management,” said Seymour. “You also learn how to socialize, and how to talk to people.”

Seymour, who majored in economics at Middlebury College, left the consulting world for a career in teaching.

“There were long nights where I wouldn’t get home until after ten,” said Seymour. “I liked consulting, but I love teaching even more.”

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