For any given student-athlete with prospects of playing at the collegiate level, there is a wide variance in the number of and types of schools that will petition for their commitment. And whether they had over 10 powerhouse schools bidding for their favor or if they had to compete for a walk-on spot, the freshman student athletes who are now starting their Gonzaga experience saw something special about the institution which set it apart from all other potential suitors.
As with all prospective college students, it’s not about solely one item which distinguishes a university as the predominant choice, but rather an accompaniment of aspects that make it feel like the complete package.
Like many other Zags, the initial element of GU that captivated these new Zag athletes on their visits as they perused campus was it’s visual aesthetic.
“When I first visited, the first thing that struck me was the natural beauty of both the campus and Spokane as a whole.” said Russell Young, a freshman baseball player. “The combination of both new and historic buildings enveloped in the natural landscape of the land gave me an idea of what kind of university GU truly is.”
What GU is truly about became more realized to them as they ventured further around campus and got the chance to interact with the community. And as they ventured further through campus on their visits, it became apparent that the beautiful physical nature of the campus was telling of a communal environment.
Getting the chance to interact with the authentic student and faculty body of the university helped portray a comprehensive picture for what these student athletes should expect out of a commitment to GU.
“I remember walking around campus and I was struck by how every person I came across seemed genuinely enthusiastic and excited about what they were doing,” said Sophia Atin, a freshman on the women’s cross country and track team. “The passion on campus felt almost tangible, and that was something that stuck with me.”
Campus visits in the waning years of high school for all students, including athletes, plays a momentous role in their college decision-making process. The atmosphere of a campus speaks volumes about the sort of constructive environment that a university fosters, and GU showcased a bevy of traits that appealed to the incoming class of student athletes.
“I think that to be a Zag you have to be committed, hungry for success, and a good person,” said Wylie Trujillo, a freshman on the men's soccer team. “These are all qualities that I’ve noticed in people that already attend Gonzaga, and I’m looking forward to being a part of the family culture that is prominent in the GU community.”
These athletes without a doubt felt that the persona emboldened within the GU culture is one that they would feel proud to champion for the entirety of their time here, because not only do they feel that it’s exemplary, but relatable to many of their own dispositions as well.
“I personally felt like GU as a whole felt like home,” Young said. “The community aspect, and the attitude that no mountain is too tall to climb, is really what fit my piece into the puzzle.”
Student-athletes who chose GU wanted a comprehensive college experience where a culture of perennial athletic prowess was fostered, but was institutionally auxiliary to the paramount objective of building emerging public citizens into holistic human beings.
The quality of those traits that prevail outside the athletic arena will inevitably outlast any sport, which is why the student-athletes are looking for schools that will support them as much as they’ll support the school every time they perform as a representation of that university.
“To be a Zag means to constantly strive for greatness,” said Grace Ehler, a freshman on the volleyball team. “I love this mentality because it fits my drive and determination to succeed as an athlete and as a person.”
What’s more about amalgamating one’s self with a university that is felt to embody principles that are in harmony with the individual’s life directives, is that it imbues genuine pride and joy from the individual for what’s anticipated to come before they’ve even set foot on campus.
If a student athlete is ardently looking forward to not just their playing time, but commensurately their time as student community members also, then it already garners great potential for their futures at GU.
“I am excited to be a part of the student culture.” said women’s basketball freshman Yvonne Ejim. “I believe GU students are very special because of their energy and attitude, and I want to be a part of that and contribute to it as well throughout my years here at GU.”
By the sounds of these freshmen, they’re just as excited for dorm life and their 8 a.m. classes as they are for gameday.