Senior gators reflect on athletic careers

Graduating athletes say goodbye to their sports after four years

With the 2017-18 academic school year wrapping up, senior Gator athletes reflect on their careers and their retirement from athletics.

In the United States millions of students each year graduate high school and move on to further their education. Some of these students will also continue their athletic careers in college. The National Collegiate Athletic Association  reports that there are 480,000 student-athletes participating in twenty-four varsity sports. This number is the highest in the history of the NCAA.

This will be the last college season for tennis player Jai Redkar, ’18, who said he is sad to see his career end.

“I am pretty sad. It’s kind of been something that has been in my life,” Redkar said. “Every season, I was training and working towards being better for my collegiate career. I knew I was never going to go pro, but I was always working towards being the best I can be. But, it will also be nice because I’ll have a lot of time to do other things.”

Many of these athletes will not play professionally in their sport. According to the NCAA, anywhere between half a percent and three percent of college athletes go on to play sports professionally. This number is the highest in the history of the NCAA. Many of these athletes, however, will not go pro in their sport.

For division three athletes especially, the probability of playing professionally after they graduate college are incredibly low. Many will stop playing the sport they have grown up loving with the final whistle of their last contest.

Life after sports quickly begins as for the first time in many of the student athletes lives, they are no longer an athlete.

“I definitely have a lot more time on my hands,” Nick Wojnar, ’18, said.

Wojnar ended his Allegheny football career this past fall. As a student-athlete, Wojnar is proud to have been able to balance school and athletics while in college.

“I’m most proud of sticking through it. Being part of the team and seeing the change,” Wojnar said.

Basketball player Madi Caufield, ’18, recently ended her four-year Allegheny athletics career with the conclusion of the women’s season.

Caufield was very proud in the fact she was able to play basketball for her four years at Allegheny.

“I think at the division three level a lot of people struggle balancing academics and athletics and there were a lot times I didn’t know if I’d be able to play all four years,” Caufield said. “It was definitely worth it.”

Both Wojnar and Caufield will walk across the stage at Commencement on May 12, and begin their lives as college graduates. Both said they were extremely proud and grateful they decided to participate in collegiate athletics.

“It made me more balanced as a person. … definitely a fun experience,” Caufield said. “There’s just so many things you learn from sports, and I’ve developed so much over these past four years primarily because of my athletic career.”

Like thousands of other graduating athletes, Wojnar and Caufield’s playing days have ended, but their adventures are just beginning.