Athletes reflect on their unique college experiences


Jacob Thompson

A relay block start by Makenna Hansen.

Jacqueline Hixssen, Staff Reporter

The ‘college experience’ looks different for all students. Student-athletes have busy sport and school schedules that make their college experience look different from non-athletes. 

Makenna Hansen, a senior sprinter on CWU’s track and field team, said a student- athlete’s sport gives a different college experience than most students. 

“It definitely shapes who you hang out with and how your days are structured,” Hansen said. 

According to Hansen, track and field differs from other sports. While most sports compete during one quarter, track and field competes during two: winter and spring. They also practice throughout the fall quarter.

Michael Copeland, senior outfielder on CWU’s baseball team, also said his college experience would have been different without baseball. 

“The biggest part of it for me is that I would have had a lot less friends if I didn’t play a sport,” Copeland said. “With baseball, it’s 40 guys that I see every day. They almost have to be my friend if they want things to go smoothly.” 

Both Hansen and Copeland said playing their sports saved them from getting into trouble. 

“It shows how much your social life and drinking life impacts how well you do, and I have been really successful ever since I started to focus on the sport and what’s best for that,” Hansen said. 

The student-athletes’ busy sport and school schedules, along with the commitment to their sports, do not allow them time for the party scene. 

Jacob Thompson

“It took up a lot of my time, but it probably kept me out of trouble as well,” Copeland said. 

Playing a sport throughout college not only allows students to gain friends and keep out of trouble, but according to Copeland and Hansen, it also provides life skills that will follow the athletes through their future endeavors, such as punctuality and responsibility. 

“You never want to be that guy who is always late,” Copeland said. “When you go on the road you have duties and stuff you have to carry and things you are responsible for, and so just being aware of what’s going on timewise and responsibility-wise is a major part of it.” 

Throughout Hansen’s junior year, she said she had to balance in-person classes, a job and her year-long sport. 

“You have to form everything around your practice schedule,” Hansen said. 

According to Copeland, this is his sixth year playing college baseball, but this previous season was the only full season he was able to play due to multiple factors. 

“I have been injured and COVID and all kinds of different stuff,” Copeland said. 

Copeland said he wants to leave a legacy where future athletes are not only doing it for themselves but for their teammates as well. 

“When I had a hard time trying to find out why I was still playing, it was looking around and looking at everyone else and trying to make myself better for them when I really wasn’t feeling it for myself,” Copeland said. “Going out of your way for other people is the biggest thing I have tried to do here.” 

When reflecting on her college memories, Hansen was quick to recall her most memorable college moment. 

While competing in the indoor GNAC tournament, Hansen said, “I got All-Conference in all of my events and then seeing my other teammates succeed … That was probably the happiest I have been for track and school.”

Copeland said his advice for incoming collegiate athletes is to not give up on a sport.

“[Be] grateful for the spot that you’re in,” Copeland said. “There were so many times that I didn’t want to play anymore, and I didn’t want to be there. But I was thinking about all the guys I have played with in the past that would have killed to be in that spot.” 

Hansen also said she advised future athletes to continue to not give up, even when they want to. 

“Don’t give up. There were so many times that I wanted to quit,” Hansen said. “I am happy I stayed all four years because it’s the best memories I have here.”

Life after graduation looks different for both of these athletes. Hansen is currently in CWU’s ROTC program. After graduation, she said she plans on moving to Florida and being commissioned into the Air Force.

Copeland said he is planning on returning to his hometown of Vancouver, Washington and working for a RV awning distribution company after leaving CWU.