Editor’s note: The Campus Times reached out to several senior UR athletes and offered them a chance to share thoughts on their four years at the University. Tiffany White, a field hockey and softball athlete, offers her’s below.
I started playing softball in third grade, and my life revolved around sports from that point on.
Two years later, I added field hockey. Then basketball. Then cross country. Then swimming.
I ended up playing five sports in high school, but field hockey and softball were always my primary sports, and I played both year round.
When the time for college recruitment came along, I had to make a decision. Play both sports? Play only one? In what division? Just be a student, and play neither?
Everyone would always ask me, “which is your favorite?”
It was always a toss up—I loved whichever one I was playing at the time. I couldn’t imagine giving up either. I wanted to attend a school where I could play both, be challenged academically, and compete and play at the highest level athletically, whatever the division.
For me, that was UR. It had everything I was looking for.
Collectively, I have competed in the Liberty League Championships in a total of six seasons (winning twice in softball), hosted an NCAA Regional Softball Tournament twice (and won it once), hosted and won an NCAA Super Regional Softball Tournament once, made it to the NCAA Division III Field Hockey National Championship Tournament Sweet 16 twice, and made it all the way to the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament Elite 8 twice—once in each sport.
Being a college athlete is not an opportunity that everyone gets to experience, especially not in two sports, nor is it likely to have as much program success as I have been fortunate enough to have—and for that, I am thankful.
The beauty of D-III athletics is that its athletes get to compete in the sports we love, alongside teammates who love it just as much as us.
But while sports are important to me, I chose the University to be a student first and an athlete second.
There are few schools where I could say that I study art and business, and fewer still where I could say I do that and play two sports.
Rochester became my second home, where I had the freedom to follow my dreams.
As a young girl, I dreamed of being an Olympic softball player. When softball was removed from the Olympics, I wanted to be a collegiate athlete at a competitive level and also be able to study abroad. Luckily, I got to do both.
Last spring, I decided to forgo playing softball to study overseas. I studied in the land of my heritage, Scotland, while also working in the sports industry as an intern with a professional ice hockey team in Edinburgh.
I also played on my Scottish university’s club field hockey team, and was even able to help them win a national Championship, The Scottish Conference “Plate” Championship, which is a part of the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) club sport system, the highest level of college sports in the U.K.
At UR, I was able to create my own identity that was more than just being an athlete.
I am an artist. I am a sister of Chi Omega. I am a brother of Alpha Kappa Psi, a co-ed business fraternity. I am a dancer. A student. A businesswoman. A teammate. A friend.
And I am also an athlete.
I am going to miss being a collegiate athlete because my sports became a part of me, my teams became my second family, and my coaches were like my parents away from home. I’m going to miss the first day of pre-season move-in day reunions, and the bus rides that seemed like they would never end. I’ll miss the 6 a.m. practices, the 32-degree practices, the early morning lifts, and the surprise conditioning, because I knew I always had someone next to me to push me to get faster.
I’ll miss going to class in my pinnie and shorts because I have practice right after, and switching my work shift so I can go to practice the night before a big game.
I’ll miss the competition, the pressure of the playoffs, leading one of my teammates with a pass to create a perfect shot opportunity, and hearing the sound of the ball hitting the backboard.
I’ll miss dog-piling after we win in overtime and the team jam sessions.
I’ll miss the passion my teammates have for the sport, and I’ll miss representing my school every time I walk out onto the field.
I will miss both of my sports, but most importantly, I will miss my teammates.
As former Boston University basketball player Deborah Miller Palmore once said, “Even when you’ve played the game of your life, it’s the feeling of teamwork that you’ll remember. You’ll forget the plays, the shots, and the scores, but you’ll never forget your teammates.”