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2016 Linfield Magazine Winter

“What shapes our athletics program is a coaching staff that really believes they are helping educate the whole student, so they focus on team development, character development and enjoying the sport.” – Susan Hopp Vice President of Student Affairs It wasn’t just how the football staff came together, but it was everyone in our department and on campus. That was unique and that was family.” Unique experience The NCAA is divided into three divisions with Linfield competing in Division III. Students at this level have a fundamentally different approach when it comes to college and to athletics, said Susan Hopp, vice president of student affairs and dean of students, who oversees the athletic department. Athletic scholarships are not awarded at the DIII level. Players are students first, athletes second. There are no special residence halls, training facilities or separate academic support services for athletes at Linfield. “What shapes our athletics program is a coaching staff that really believes they are helping educate the whole student, so they focus on team development, character development and enjoying the sport,” Hopp said. Student-athletes here want a rigorous academic experience. They run the gamut in majors ranging from nursing, biology, physics and math to studio art, business, psychology and economics and everything in between. “I’ve worked at institutions at every level of the NCAA. In DIII students can have it all – they can be a 4.0 student, they can be an athlete, they can be in music and plays,” Hopp said. “They are not consumed by the identity of being an athlete only. Here students play because they love to play. It brings out the best in them. It helps them have a balanced college experience.” But while Linfield students play for the love of the game, they also are highly competitive. They want to win at the conference, regional and national level. “Here they expect to win,” said Professor Eric Schuck, a former athlete at Pacific Lutheran University. “While other DIII programs seem indifferent to success, here they want to succeed. That’s the biggest difference.” Statistics bear that out (see page 11), considering the number of conference, Kaelia Neal Kaelia Neal ’18 dreams of being a sports journalist. She’s getting hands-on experience as sports editor of the Linfield Review, while also working in student accounts and participating in the Black Student Union. This fall, she became the first female Wildcat since 2009 to qualify for the national cross country championships. She credits coaches Greg Mitchell ‘95 and Travis Olson ’98 with encouraging her to set her goals higher and giving her the confidence to succeed. Even as she was having the best running season of her life, she was also taking one of the most challenging classes of her academic career. Information Gathering is known as the toughest and most time-consuming course in the mass communication major. The final project is a massive research paper (her topic was on concussions) and it was coming due at the same time Neal was competing at the regional and national level. The support of her professors, who told her they wanted her to be successful in cross country and in the classroom, was crucial in helping her complete her paper, as well as exceed her expectations on the cross country course to finish in the top 80. “I was so grateful that they understood what I was dealing with and that they were so supportive,” she said. “My research skills are much stronger from that class and I’ve developed as a writer. I’m learning how to juggle everything and I’m learning to believe in myself.” 8 - l i n f i e l d m a g a z i n e Winter 2016


2016 Linfield Magazine Winter
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