By Forest Stulting, Sports Editor
Spring sports right around the corner means the careers of the seniors who participated in fall sports has come to an end. For senior goalkeeper on the Furman men’s soccer team, Sven Lissek, being a student-athlete in the soccer program “has had such a huge impact on who I am today.” Lissek is not the only Furman student-athlete who felt that way.
Two other Furman student-athletes along with Lissek offered what they thought about their time at Furman and what they saw as most valuable in their student-athlete experience.
Senior setter Jo Wilks of the volleyball team said that her time at Furman has been “everything I could have ever wanted in a school and a volleyball program.” Wilks went on to say that she has been able “to get an incredible education while playing alongside teammates that I love.”
She said that her most valuable lesson from being a student-athlete was “to never take yourself too seriously.” Wilks saw her experience as a major factor in helping her learn that lesson.
“As the years have gone on, I’ve realized that at the end of the day, or in this case, the end of my career, the fun times together as teammates will be more memorable than any match,” she added.
Lissek had similar sentiments about his student-athlete experience. Lissek said his soccer experience has been the highlight of his time at Furman.
“It has meant so much more to me than just kicking a soccer ball,” he said. “The atmosphere that I got to enjoy and the people I got to play with were above and beyond my expectations.”
Lissek believes being a student-athlete has impacted his life not only on the pitch but also off of it.
“I have learned so many things, not only about the game but about life and myself,” he said.
Lissek believes his teammates really made the program special.
“The most impactful memories…probably stem from our senior nights, when all graduating seniors make short speeches about what the program has meant to them.” And as an underclassman, these talks helped him “discover things about some of my teammates that I would have never thought of them.”
“It is a truly special atmosphere when the guys you go to battle with on the field share their emotions with you,” Lissek added.
Senior goalkeeper of the women’s soccer team Maggie Grisell expressed similar sentiments as her fellow student-athletes in what her time at Furman has meant to her.
“Playing at Furman has meant the creation of a family, now and for the rest of my life,” Grisell said, adding that the student-athlete experience has been “a unique opportunity to become so close to such great girls working for a common purpose.”
Grisell indicated that her fondest moments also came off the pitch.
“I think some of my favorite memories were those hours spent in the locker room before game time,” Grisell said. “We joked around, we sang at the top of our lungs, and we danced and danced. I believe that those moments of unspoken connection on the field that led to such great success were just a reflection of the bond we had off the field.”
With so much controversy over the state of the student-athlete, these stories and memories help remind us the true reason why we care so much about what being a student-athlete really is. It gives the students an unbreakable bond that ties them to something bigger than themselves–a community of people who share common goals and care for each other so much that they put the team before themselves.
Lissek put it best when I asked him what the most important lesson he learned during his time at Furman. He said it was to “always look out for the person next to you.”