Beyond Their Sport: Student Athletes at Jewell

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Student athletes are just that: students before athletes. Commitment to their sports is part of their lives, one of their passions, but one of many. Last week The Hilltop Monitor sat down with four William Jewell College student athletes to discuss their lives outside of sports. These Division II athletes are not only golfers, softball and football players but also future surgeons, leaders and successful students. They have passion for their sports, but they also have positions in sororities and fraternities, leadership positions on campus and future dreams outside of balls, clubs and bats.

Katie Bird – Photo by Jewell Athletics

Katie Bird is a junior mathematics, economics, and Applied Critical Thought and Inquiry (ACT-In) major, the families and friends chair of Zeta Tau Alpha, a Pryor Fellow and a golfer. Bird started golfing when she was 5 years-old. Collegiate golfing was not always part of her plan, but when Bird broke her arm her senior year of high school, she realized she was not ready to give it up.

Bird walked on to the William Jewell golf team freshman year. Since then, she has given up her weekends for golf tournaments, practiced from 3:30-6 p.m. daily, gone to weights at 6 am and stayed on top of her schoolwork and other commitments. Bird works at The Children’s Place KC, as a research and development intern, and helps with social media, coordinating volunteers and aiding with fundraising. While this all seems challenging, and it may be hard to balance it all, Bird says she enjoys staying productive.

“I’ve always been busy, even when I was young,” Bird said. “I’m used to balancing. Whenever I have free time I don’t know what to do with myself. So it’s just about time management and not procrastinating.”

Bird views golf as a three hour break, outside in nature away from everything else. She finds it relaxing and a source of mental strength.

“When you have one bad shot, you can’t let it affect everything else, and I think that carries over into life in a lot of ways,” said Bird. “If you mess up once or like if one thing goes badly you have to keep going and just kind of push it from the side and recover quickly.”

After Jewell, Bird wants to go into data analysis, or do research for the Federal Reserve. She doesn’t know her exact plan yet, but she hopes to work in math and data applied to finance or economics. While difficult, Bird says that golf helps her ability to manage her commitments.

Jack Gordon – Photo by Jewell Athletics

Jack Gordon, junior biology major, plays football and hopes to become a surgeon. He says that football gives him an outlet and helps him to balance his life outside of studying. Gordon spends nearly all his time in the Pryor Learning Commons – between his major and pre-med minor he has plenty to study. He also is the philanthropy chair in Kappa Alpha Order, as well as a member of Tri-Beta, the biology honors society. Gordon said his sleep schedule does suffer from his commitments, with late nights studying and weights and conditioning at 5:30 am – but his ability to manage his time has improved over his college years, and he credits that to his goal driven mentality.

“If I weren’t set on becoming a surgeon, then I don’t think I would have the same motivation or drive to maintain as good of a GPA as possible for medical school,” Gordon said.

Gordon’s first dream was to play in the NFL, but by the time he started thinking about colleges he realized he wasn’t getting many Division 1 offers and his dreams shifted. Now he uses football as a way to provide for the cost of school and save money for his future in medical school. Gordon decided to go into medicine because he’s always had an interest in the human body, he likes to work with his hands and complete tasks and he wants to make a difference and dedicate his life to a cause that helps others.

“When I was younger my dad told me, when you get older make sure you’re doing something where you’re giving back to people – otherwise you won’t get anything out of your job, you won’t be as happy,” Gordon said.

Jameson Howard – Photo by Jewell Athletics

Jameson Howard, junior business administration, nonprofit leadership and ACT-In major, as well as a golfer, also shares a passion for helping others and making a difference. Howard originally wanted to become a professional golfer, work on a golf course and teach golf, but since adding on the non-profit leadership major he realized that his true dream is to run a non profit.

Howard wants to serve others and make a difference. He always had a goal to make a difference and thought he could accomplish that by teaching golf. However, as he took more non-profit classes and worked with real organizations in Kansas City and Liberty, Howard realized how rewarding working in this sector could be.

“If you enter into the nonprofit sector, it’s really fulfilling. You actually feel like your serving, putting others before yourself every day,” Howard said. “Whatever it’s for – the environment, a community, people in need. Whichever organization that is, that’s something I would love to be a part of.”

Howard is a member of Phi Gamma Delta, the Pryor Leadership Program and has participated in DECA. His busiest time is during golf season but Howard credits his coach for allowing academics and extracurriculars to come first.

Sarah Lewis – Photo by Jewell Athletics

Sarah Lewis, junior political science, business administration and ACT-In major, is the vice president of Student Senate, one of the vice presidents of Zeta Tau Alpha, a member of the special events team for Campus Union Activities and member of a softball team. Lewis said when she was choosing colleges, it wasn’t just about the softball team. Lewis wanted a school that would prioritize academics, which is one of the reasons she chose William Jewell. Over the last couple of years, Lewis has grown a lot in time management, leadership, and trust through playing softball amidst her other commitments.

“You have to trust your teammates to not only have your back but to also help you out whenever you’re lacking,” Lewis said. “Learning how to work in a team dynamic is important. It gives you an idea of what it’ll be like to have a job in the future, working in a group – you all have to get along and have the best interests for everybody.”

Lewis hopes to work in marketing but isn’t tied down to one field. She currently has two internships, one at Corbin Mill helping with their renovation and another with KCK Adelante Thrift, working with their social media. One of the standouts from her Jewell experiences thus far is working on Student Senate. She says her experience has been amazing so far, giving her an outlook on the school that not everyone gets to have.

“[We] work with student life, have monthly meetings with the president and Dr. Dema, meeting with trustees and different people like that, just knowing the ins and outs of how the College works and makes decisions and being the liaison between students and student life and faculty, giving the students a voice. It’s been really cool,” Lewis said.

Lewis says that time management has been a challenge. Softball is mandatory, but so is school. She balances practices and weights, sorority meetings, senate meetings, event planning, her internships and her majors. However, she sees her experience as extremely worthwhile.

“Jewell just keeps getting better and better the more I keep getting involved,” Lewis said. “I would definitely do it the same if I had the chance to do it again.”

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