Cuts to Sports Come At the Cost of Dreams

The Campus's Actions Show That Student-Athletes' Dreams do Come at a Steep Price

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At the rally to support Cal Baseball last October I saw a sign being held up by five Cal Lacrosse players. It said "You Can't Put a Price on Dreams."

As I looked at it, a flood of memories came back, of a tiny two year old with a foam bat hitting a foam ball in my living room, of her showing virtually no interest in dolls at Toys"R"Us, but going immediately to the balls and gloves aisle instead. At first she became a figure skater, going to the rink at 5:30 a.m. to practice, winning tournaments at the ages of seven and eight.

But she was drawn to team sports, and she played soccer and basketball and softball.

By age 10, she was on a select softball team while playing soccer and basketball at school, as well as running track.

In middle school she was introduced to a new sport, lacrosse, which was then in its second year of existence in Austin, Texas. Through middle school she played lacrosse, basketball, ran track and played on her select softball team (she was even coached on that softball team by All-American and future Olympian Cat Osterman).

When it came time for high school, she had a momentous choice: To continue at Saint Andrew's Episcopal School where she could play lacrosse as well as basketball and field hockey, or go to Westlake High School in Austin and be the starting catcher on the softball team.

At the last minute she chose lacrosse and being in a lacrosse wasteland in Texas, joined the X Team, a select lacrosse team from New York that was coached by All-American Crista Samaras and All-American and Tewaaraton Award winner Amy Appelt.

She traveled to tournaments and training camps with this team all over the Northeast. She excelled in all sports that she played, and was all-conference and most valuable player for field hockey, basketball and lacrosse, but also garnered national recognition for lacrosse, earning the titles of US Lacrosse Honorable Mention All-American her junior year and All-American her senior year.

She trained with a strength and agility trainer at the University of Texas from the time she was 10 years old to hone a body that could perform at its peak and withstand injuries. The sessions were generally at 6 a.m. and happened two to three times a week.

In the summer after her sophomore year of high school, she attended summer lacrosse camps at Berkeley, University of Denver and University of Virginia. She fell in love with Cal, the campus, the team, the coaches, everything.

Although she continued to participate in national tournaments across the country with the X Team, she stayed in touch with the Cal lacrosse program and attended the camp again after completing her junior year.

In September of that year she received a call from Theresa Sherry, head coach of the Bears, offering an athletic scholarship to the Cal lacrosse team. Her long-held dream of playing Division I collegiate athletics had not only come true, it was to be at the school of her choice!

All of the thousands of hours of training, of practice, and of preparation had culminated in a dream that came true.

One of the young women holding the sign at the "Save Cal Baseball" rally was no longer that 2-year-old hitting foam balls in my living room.

It was my 21-year-old daughter, a junior on the Cal Lacrosse team and an academic all-conference athlete majoring in media studies.

I am sure that the more than 160 athletes whose collegiate careers were so dramatically affected by the campus's dropping of five varsity sports on Sept. 28 had similar backgrounds.

It took years of preparation and exhibition of excellence to be noticed by Cal coaches and offered admittance to these programs. The impact is beyond description to see something sought after for so long and for which such immeasurable effort had been expended, ripped away.

The decision was tragic and callous. Finally and most importantly, it lessened the campus to make the decisions it did, when there were other options available to save money in the athletic department.

As the sign says, "You Can't Put a Price on Dreams," but the University of California did just that and it destroyed the dreams of 160 student athletes.


Rick Harrison is the father of a UC Berkeley student. Reply to [email protected]

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