William Wright, ‘13, and four teammates competed in what he called a “hectic” cycling competition on Jan. 30.

Alumni leave sports once in college; injuries, time commitments force athletes to part with activities they love

(Photo used by permission of the UCSD Cycling website)
William Wright, ‘13, and four teammates competed in what he called a “hectic” cycling competition on Jan. 30. Wright joined the UCSD cycling team because he missed the camaraderie of college rowing, a sport he had to abandon because of a back injury.

When alumni Mary-Clare Bosco, Elise DeCarli and William Wright headed to college, they were excited about joining college teams. But now all three have stopped playing the sports they loved so much.

DeCarli, ‘13, played volleyball at Occidental College for only one season.

One reason, she said, was that the sense of community on the Occidental team was different from Country Day’s.

“(At SCDS) we all pushed to the same goal,” DeCarli said. “We pushed each other to get there in a really positive way.”

However, DeCarli said she didn’t click with her new teammates because only four were freshmen.

“The seniors were all best friends for most of college, so it was just a really weird dynamic,” DeCarli said.

DeCarli also had trouble making friends outside of volleyball.

One week before freshman orientation, DeCarli began attending volleyball practice twice a day. However, since orientation at Occidental is from 10 a.m. to midnight, DeCarli could attend only the required parts.

“I lost a solid half of orientation, so it was a very isolating experience,” DeCarli said.

DeCarli said she wanted more time to make more friends, but volleyball was in the way.

Only after quitting volleyball did she have time to join a sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta.

In addition, DeCarli said her volleyball coach didn’t motivate her enough.

“I didn’t feel like she cared that much about how I was doing or if I got better,” DeCarli said.

“I like having coaches that push you and work you hard, but she didn’t do that well.”

Knowing that she wasn’t going to play in the Olympics also helped her make the decision.

And she started thinking of the future and the possibility of injuring herself.

“Why not end now knowing that I could get injured later?” DeCarli said.

Finally, DeCarli said she didn’t like volleyball trips.

“Since it’s LA, it takes forever to get to places,” DeCarli said. “We would take a bus and travel 45 minutes to an hour and a half to get where we wanted to play.”

In the end, though, DeCarli said playing volleyball for nine years made the decision to quit a hard one.

“It was a big deal because I always loved volleyball, and the fact that I didn’t enjoy it anymore was strange,” DeCarli said.

DeCarli now spends her Saturdays (formerly devoted to volleyball practice) participating in Dance Production, a club that puts together a huge spring performance with students as the choreographers.

DeCarli also works in the office of admissions at Occidental as an overnight coordinator, helping prospective students find an overnight host.

Mary-Clare Bosco, ‘13, stopped playing basketball at Pomona College for  a completely different reason: an injury.

Bosco had been involved in basketball since she was in third grade. At Country Day, she played center guard, shooting guard and point guard.

Athletic director Matt Vargo said Bosco was the league MVP and led the team in points and rebounds.

“She was a big influence on our younger players,” Vargo said.

So no one was surprised when Pomona recruited her. However, Bosco’s trouble began early in her college career, as she experienced a concussion in January or February of her freshman year.

Bosco was hit in the head by an opponent’s shoulder and had “a screaming headache,” she said.

Although she was taken out several plays later, she didn’t miss any games after that, even though she had bad headaches, couldn’t stay balanced, and was sensitive to light.

At the recommendation of her coach and athletic director, she started therapy sessions.

“I had to go to balance therapy,” Bosco said. “Many people could stay balanced while their eyes were closed, but I would fall over.”

She said it took about three months to regain her sense of balance. Bosco said after the concussion she also had problems focusing.

“I almost had to take my freshman spring semester off,” Bosco said.

After just one season, Bosco started thinking of quitting once she started taking harder classes her sophomore year.

Now Bosco stays active by running and hiking. She said she misses the sense of community, but she doesn’t miss basketball trips because balancing sports and classes is hard.

“(Pomona is) academically hard and you have to learn to manage time efficiently,” she said.

“There’s an even bigger commitment to sports (than there was in high school). You have to dedicate time on the weekend. It’s more like a job.”

Bosco also said passions get in the way of sports. In her case her major, environmental economics, became her passion.

“I realized at the base root of all the issues that everyone is trying to fight, none of them would be relevant without a healthy planet to live on,” Bosco said.

In her free time, Bosco also interned for Stratecon, Inc., writing for the Journal of Water.

Like Bosco, William Wright, ‘13, stopped rowing for UC San Diego because of a sports-related injury.

Wright suffered a herniated disc at the end of his freshman year after lifting heavy weights.

That meant he could no longer deadlift, work out or go to practice.

Wright said the pain in his back, which he experienced during the months of April and May 2014, was really bad.

“That was when the pain got worse and worse,” Wright said. “It became very painful to even walk around, and that’s when I told the coach.”

So during his sophomore year in college, Wright redshirted, going to practice but not participating in competition.

In addition, he went to physical therapy four times a week his whole sophomore year.

“It got better, but not to the point that I thought I’d be able to compete again,” Wright said.

One of Wright’s teammates had gone through a similar injury, quitting a year before Wright did.

Together they decided to join UCSD’s varsity cycling team.

Wright said the main reason he joined cycling was because he missed the camaraderie.

“I missed that competitive and team dynamic I had on rowing,” Wright said.

In addition, he had grown up riding bikes.

“I’ve always loved cycling,” Wright said. “It was something that was easy on my back.”

Wright had his first race on Jan. 30 and said it went well.

Although Wright said he misses rowing, he has more free time as a cyclist.

“You can train one day a week or seven days a week,” Wright said. “It tailors to your schedule.”

As a rower, he said he woke up at 4:15 a.m., practiced for three hours, went to class without showering, practiced again for two hours, did homework, and went to bed at 9-10:30 p.m. so he could get up early the next morning.

“It was your life,” Wright said. “Practice dictates your life.”

Wright said rowing in high school was completely different.

“You didn’t always have to go to practice,” Wright said. “You could make the excuse of having a test or wanting to study. That doesn’t fly in college.”

—By Ulises Barajas

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