For student-athletes ranging from the 1,000-point scorer to the walk-on trying out a new sport, varsity athletics signifies a crucial aspect of the Vassar experience. Juggling problem sets and essays with 9 a.m. lifts and lengthy road trips, the Class of 2018 student-athletes continued to strive. During their all-too-short time donning the burgundy and grey, there are no college scholarships or television appearances. Rather, they are motivated simply by a pure love of the game.
This Sunday, many student-athletes will walk across the stage in front of Sunset Lake and receive their diplomas. In their honor, The Miscellany News would like to highlight just a few of Brewers’ experiences and memories.
Jesse Schatz, of Mount Joy, PA, was a four-year member of both the men’s cross country and track teams. A two-time Liberty League All-Academic selection, the senior leader was a consistent and energetic presence for the team. Known for his humor and wit, Schatz believes his experience has meant more than just the milestones.
“I think athletically I will be proudest of the races where I ran a personal best time or beat people I was not expecting to, but there are other races that stand out more in my memory,” Schatz said. “Such as the time I lost a shoe in the first 400 meters, or more recently my last 10k which was run into a 40 mph headwind.”
When Schatz wasn’t busy losing his shoes or bracing himself against strong gusts, he was in the classroom. Schatz will graduate with an Africana Studies major, and next year will work in Washington, D.C., at the Gulf International Forum, a foreign policy think tank focused on the Arab Gulf region. He emphasized that he owes a debt of gratitude to the team, which he believes has helped him reach this next chapter of his life.
“Being a student and [an] athlete worked in tandem to better my Vassar experience,” Schatz said. “The stress of school could be alleviated at practice and with the team, while at the same time academics could distract from the anxieties that come with competing in a sport you really care about.”
Schatz’s passion for running and love for his team was evident earlier this year, when he and three teammates decided to drive 36 hours to Elsah, IL, to watch Michael Scarlett ‘18 run in the National Championship—for 25 minutes.
“It was idiotic but I will always remember it as one of the best weekends of the past four years,” Schatz said. “It’s almost impossible not to grow close with one another after running together nearly every day for four school years. I think I’ll always be an avid runner, but most of all what I will miss are the people.”
Senior captain of this year’s men’s basketball team, Tony Caletti, will also leave Vassar with a deep connection to athletics and fond memories of the people he has meet through it.
“I always enjoyed the sport and made many great friends through my team and the athletic community,” Caletti said. “It pushed me to grow as a person and mature off the court by putting things in perspective as well as learning valuable leadership and cooperative skills.”
Caletti will graduate with a double major in mathematics and statistics, as well as correlates in computer science and economics. Next year, he will continue to contemplate numbers as a business data analyst for sports company DraftKings.
Said the Mill Valley, CA, native: “I chose DraftKings because it seems like an interesting company with good benefits and I wanted to connect with sports after my career came to a close.”
While Caletti will head up north to Boston, senior volleyball player Zechariah Lee will return home to California to work at a private equity firm in Irvine. Reflecting on his time at Vassar, Lee is proud of how he was able to remain well-rounded.
“I think the biggest takeaway would be to never shy away from opportunities life hands at you,” Lee said. “During my time here, I’ve been able to join a band, play a varsity sport, start my own business and get a high-caliber education. Through all of these experiences, I’ve seen myself mature and grow and I’m very grateful for all the amazing memories I’ve made while being here.”
The highlight of Lee’s athletic career may very well be his senior campaign, in which he helped lead the Brewers to the DIII Final Four, a first for Vassar in the NCAA era.
“Being able to be a part of such a hard-working team and seeing where this program has gone since I’ve been here has been extremely rewarding,” Lee said on his team’s fairytale final run. “I hope athletics at Vassar can keep growing in a positive manner. I see it getting larger and larger but I also see athletes becoming more open to the other things Vassar has to offer besides athletics.”
Senior Ariella Rosenthal’s Vassar experience also transcends athletics. Outside of the wins and losses, the women’s basketball captain remembers the feeling of completing her thesis, her father traveling across the country to witness her 1,000 point and spending time with her teammates as they braced for this year’s Liberty League semifinal.
“My experience as a Vassar student-athlete has been extremely beneficial to my growth, not only on the court but within the classroom and as a person as a whole,” Rosenthal said. “Having to balance the commitment to my team, my coach, my school and myself has been a challenge and has tested me more times than not. But through those challenges, I have learned a lot about myself and the way I work with others, and when I work best.”
Rosenthal will complete her degree with a major in psychology and a minor in biology. She is considering playing professional basketball in Israel or working for a tech company in San Francisco.
Wherever she goes, Rosenthal will miss the little things that make Vassar unique. “When the snow begins to melt, you can finally wear shorts again, and everyone is hanging out in the sun,” she recalled fondly. “I feel like those moments are the epitome of a college experience and are for sure some of my greatest memories here.”
As these moments turn to memories, Rosenthal and her fellow senior athletes are more than ready to move outside of Vassar’s home turf, and more than capable of doing so successfully.
“I think we’re a group of really hard-working individuals who have proved to be successful on and off our respective playing fields, courts, pools, and tracks,” Rosenthal concluded. “I think we have shown to ourselves and others that we are a group of individuals prepared to continue to try and pave way for necessary change in our world.”