Editor’s Note: Ben is a senior Accounting Major who has played on Goshen’s baseball throughout his four years. In this article, he reflects on his experience as an athletic recruit, as well as his time at Goshen more broadly.
As my time at Goshen College comes to a close, I find myself reflecting back on the years I’ve spent at this school. These past four years feel like they’ve flown by, and it’s crazy to think that in a few months it will all come to an end. As I prepare for the second half of my last semester at college, I can’t help but think back to where it all started, and how these four years almost took a completely different trajectory.
I’ve known about Goshen College since I was young. Both my parents attended school here. I’ve had grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who attended Goshen. Because of this, I feel like I’ve always known about this school and what it represents.
One family member, my uncle, played on some of Goshen College’s most successful baseball teams in the mid 1990s. Because of his experience, I was already aware of some of the differences in the college experience between athletes and non-athletes before I arrived on campus.
This is a concept I’ve revisited recently as my sister is beginning her college selection process, with Goshen on the short list. She doesn’t play sports, but to me it doesn’t matter, as I know she’s still a well-rounded individual who would have no trouble finding her niche on this campus. My parents don’t think much of it now, but it took them some time to get used to the fact that my college experience as an athlete was so different from theirs, even though we shared the same dorms, classrooms, and campus.
No matter what you are thinking of doing in college, there are a number of things to consider as a part of your decision. For example, academic reputation, facilities, location, and majors offered are things that everyone has to think about. Money is usually a big selling point as well, including whatever academic or athletic aid you might receive from the school.
A lot of times, however, there are factors as an athlete that overrule anything related to academics. How is the team looking these next few years? What kind of recruiting class do they have coming in, other than yourself? Is there an opportunity for playing time early on? Do you get along with the guys on the team? Do you like the coaching style, and feel that your development as a player will be maximized? A lot of times, the answers to these questions trump all others.
A lot of prospective college athletes often hear the question: “would you enjoy going to this college if you weren’t playing a sport here?” Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that question. I really couldn’t picture my life or my college experience without playing my sport, and I know a lot of other athletes who feel the same way.
I think this is part of the reason that here at Goshen, and at other schools, the recruitment process for athletes is so different than it is for other students. Often the sport and team aspects of college can override much of the rest of your college experience, because of how much time you spend working on your sport and with your team, and how close you get to them.
Over the last few years I’ve talked with many first-year baseball players who were already having doubts after that first weekend visit to Merry Lea. We tell them, “We promise you, we have a good group of guys here. Once you get to know everyone you’ll be glad you made this decision, trust us. We were the exact same way.” And it’s true. I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had or the friends I’ve made here for the world. And I know for a fact that the vast majority of my teammates who stick around feel the same way.
Those of us who stick around still end up benefiting from what Goshen has to offer in areas other than sports. My teammates and I have developed great relationships with our professors, have found new passions and career paths, and have engaged with lots of activities beyond athletics. Say what you will about athletes and any reputations that surround them; they are an important part of this campus and contribute to who we are as a campus just as much as all of the other wonderful, diverse students who call this place home.