Saying goodbye: Senior athletes aim high

With the year coming to a close, many seniors in DePaul athletics are saying goodbye and moving on to a career.

As the NCAA tournament concluded with a loss to Texas A&M in the Sweet Sixteen, DePaul forward Jasmine Penny knew the game was her last game of organized basketball she would ever play. She had known all season long.
And for Penny, that was perfectly fine.

“I just want to go in a different direction,” Penny said. “I’ve pretty much set out and accomplished the things I wanted to do.”

Penny has been adamant throughout the year about not wanting to play professional basketball overseas. Instead, 6-2final%20issue(1) copy 6Penny wants to move back to her home state of Indiana and try to make a difference in her community.  The senior applied to a job at her local hospital and is waiting to hear back.

Penny is one of the 43 student-athlete seniors set to graduate. After having a life centered around their sport for four years, many are now set to move on.

Kelsey Reynolds, a teammate and roommate of Penny’s, has her choice of options ahead of her. Reynolds, who completed her undergraduate degree in psychology and was working towards a Master’s in computer information and network security, has been accepted into three different grad schools for exercise physiology.

Her most desired outcome, however, is to do something radically different from basketball or grad school.
“I think I want to be an (FBI) agent and work in the field,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds completed an application to join the agency’s recent graduate program and if they approve her, she would be placed in the best area the FBI thinks would fit.

“I just did that so it will be a while before I find out if I’m a good fit or not,” she said. “You would then work for two years and if you want to be an agent, you have to pass physical fitness testing and then go to Quantico, Virginia and get trained. I’d then go from there.”

Other athletes, such as women’s tennis senior Kelsey Lawson, still want to be involved in their sport even after they graduate. Lawson, a communication and media major, will be moving back to her home state of Arizona and work over the summer for a local branch of the United States Tennis Association.

“I’ll be doing their social media and communication stuff,” Lawson said. “I kind of realized pretty late that I don’t want tennis to be over. I want to stay involved in it as much I can.”

Like Lawson, Megan Coronado of DePaul softball is still going to be involved in her sport after she graduates. This summer, she is going to coach a softball team in Texas, where she is from.

“It’s the program I went through, they got me my scholarship so I want to help give back and help other girls get to where we got,” she said.

There are a couple of athletes who are going to be pursuing professional careers once they graduate. Softball ace Kirsten Verdun signed with the Chicago Bandits, a professional softball team in the National Pro Fastpitch league.  Men’s basketball Sandi Marcius will also be pursuing a contract to play basketball overseas.

“I want to play in Europe since I’m from there,” Marcius said. “I love that style of living so that’s where I’m leaning towards. But whatever happens, happens. You can’t be picky in your first year, right?”

Despite the different paths the seniors will be taking after graduation, they all share a common positive experience from their time at DePaul.

“It was a fun four years here at DePaul, especially because (DePaul softball head coach Eugene Lenti) is so family oriented, so we got to spend a lot of time with our family when we were travelling,” shortstop Allie Braden said. “It was a fun experience travelling to different places, out of the country and making new friends.”

For some, it was DePaul and the city of Chicago itself that really helped make the years memorable.

“I think it was a life-changing experience coming here, especially because I’m from Texas and it’s night and day,” Coronado said. “You have to adapt quickly and I loved every minute of it.”

“I transferred in here after my sophomore year and it was really hard to get acclimated to things here,” volleyball player Laura Witt said. “But having the team and the atmosphere when the athletic department is at your almost beck and call to help you made the transition a lot easier.”

The international students had a different experience as they tried to acclimate into American culture but they shared similar, positive experiences.

“Coming from Puerto Rico and coming here into a new culture, I learned how to be away from home,” Genesis Reyes said. “I take the memories of my teammates and surviving here from it.”

Ultimately, each individual athlete will have those memories. Athletes such as Lawson and men’s tennis’ Filip Dzanko said their best memory at DePaul was on the court success, pointing to their trips to the Big East Conference finals in New York.

“It’s kind of weird playing tennis for four years and now stop playing,” Dzanko said. “I’m still adjusting. I would say my favorite memory is from a couple of weeks ago when we took second in New York.”

Yet even in the midst of success experienced on the court, some of the best memories of college are the people who surround you. Penny and Reynolds both experienced their best season at DePaul, but they both said their best memory will be having been roommates for four years.

“This girl has become my best friend, unfortunately,” Penny said, laughing.

“She’s kind of mean, but it works out fantastically,” Reynolds said.