From one athlete to another

Swim team members from CSUN and Cal State Bakersfield dive in at Matador Pool on Thursday Jan. 28, 2010. The CSUN swim program was discontinued earlier this month creating speculation that this might be the beginning of athletic programs being cut due to the budget crisis. Sarah Smith / staff photographer

It’s happened at universities like Washington, Arizona State and UC Irvine. Now Northridge is following the trend, claiming the budget crisis to be the culprit.

So if you haven’t heard or read already, collegiate sports around the country are disappearing.

About 30 CSUN student-athletes, with no warning, had a major part of their identities torn

from their lives earlier this month when the men’s and women’s swim teams were told the program would be discontinued.

As a student-athlete, I am mourning with the swimmers who where told that they would no longer be able to compete at this campus. For people who are not into sports, I see why this issue may be callously looked at because it can be a difficult situation to relate to.

The only way I can think to help people understand why this event is extremely devastating is attempting to explain what being a student-athlete is like through my own experience at CSUN.

At five-years-old, I could throw a ball just as far as any of the boys on my tee ball team. Little did anyone know that I would develop a love for the game strong enough to want to continue playing when I got to college. Softball became such a large part of my life. As all athletes who have played their sport for years know, it’s not just a game, it becomes a part of who you are.

The extreme dedication and time invested getting into the collegiate level as an athlete, makes what ha

ppened to the swimmers all the more painful.
It’s not until about your sophomore year in high school, when checking the mail becomes a privilege rather than a chore because at that time, the letters from college recruiters begin arriving, offering not only an education but an opportunity you have spent years dreaming about: the chance to play a collegiate sport.

Reminiscing takes me back to the time when I was an eager freshman and couldn’t wait to put on a Matador uniform. I remember my first collegiate game. There was no stopping the butterflies as they violently crashed into the sides of my stomach the night before. They quieted down when the exhaustion set in after playing six games during that weekend tournament in Tempe. It makes me sad knowing that there will not be any more freshman swimmers getting to experience the thrill of first collegiate game day jitters.

I can only imagine what is running through the minds of the members on the swim team now. The athletes’ scholarships must be honored by the school until their eligibility expires, but what if the athletes want to continue to swim competitively in college? They would have to immediately start contacting coaches from other schools and get all the paperwork filled out in time for the next season, which gives me a headache just thinking about.
I know if softball was cut, leaving or staying at CSUN would be a difficult decision to make. Do you try to go play (or swim) somewhere else and risk losing financial aid? Do you make arrangements to attend a school you really never wanted to go to? Do you leave your friends? What if you cannot get into a school that has the major you have been studying? Or, do you stay at CSUN and live with the fact that you will not be competing at the Division one level ever again? All those hours of practice are flushed down the drain. Not to mention, your parents and family will not get to see you compete in the sport that you’ve dedicated a large part of your life to if you choose to stay.

Men’s and women’s swimming may not be a high-profile sports on this campus, but they work just as hard as all of the other teams at CSUN and are just as dedicated.

My heart goes out to the CSUN swim teams and their coaches.