LEFT: In this Oct. 29, 2016, file photo, freshman outside hitter Julia Pressly spikes the ball over two Colgate defenders during the three set loss to the Raiders at Grace Hall. Pressly is a member of Gamma Phi Beta. (Sarah Epstein/B&W Staff) RIGHT: In this April 29, 2016, file photo, junior Colin Nardella swings through a serve and wins his singles match 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-0, against Colgate University at the Lewis Tennis Center. Nardella is a member of Lambda Chi Alpha. (Musa Jamshed/B&W Staff)

Modern Olympians: Lehigh athletes share their experiences with Greek life

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Lehigh receives widespread recognition for its academics, athletics and Greek life.

According to different polls, Lehigh ranks highly in best Greek life and best party school surveys. Lehigh athletics has also made a name for itself in the Patriot League with championship titles in men and women’s track and field, football, baseball, men’s soccer and softball all within the last few years.

Certain teams allow their players to join Greek life and others recommend against it. Sean Leary, the baseball coach, accepts those with the desire to join since he was in a fraternity while playing baseball at Lehigh.

Spencer Diggins, formerly a member of the baseball team, said he wanted to join Greek life while he was playing but was unsure if he could balance his responsibilities.

After quitting the team, he joined Alpha Tau Omega and said he has never once regretted it.

Other teams that allow their members to join Greek life include volleyball, men’s and women’s track and field, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and men’s and women’s tennis.

Julia Pressly, a freshman on the volleyball team and new member of Gamma Phi Beta, said her teammates didn’t mind her new affiliation as long as volleyball remained her main priority. Her coach, on the other hand, was more concerned about it.

While coaches cannot formally forbid their players from joining Greek life, many players have enforced the rule themselves.

Junior wrestler Darian Cruz respects his team’s rule against joining fraternities and has dedicated himself to his team and his goals for the sport.

“Our coach believes that we need to dedicate our full time to two of the three areas of college life: the three being social, academic and athletic,” Cruz said. “We can only be great at two of them, so spreading ourselves too thin will only result in mediocrity in all three.”

Both Cruz and Justin Worley, a senior member of the men’s soccer team, recall hearing stories of players in the past being in Greek life, but their academic and athletic performances ended up suffering because of the time commitment and responsibilities that came with each.

Worley said he has entertained the idea of being in a fraternity because of its large presence on campus, but thinks it would be too overwhelming.

“In my experience, trying to juggle soccer and school work has been time consuming enough,” he said.

Many coaches do not typically favor their athletes joining Greek life because of the drinking aspect commonly associated with the lifestyle, which often conflicts with team values.

Senior Colin Nardella on the men’s tennis team rushed Lambda Chi Alpha as a first year when the fraternity was still on campus. The fraternity has since been disbanded at Lehigh.

Nardella said his responsibilities are to be present at as many social events as possible. As an underclassman the events were more constant, but now as a senior he can choose to attend when he wants to.

Even with the ability to attend events when he wants, he said he does feel the pressure to go out a lot interferes with his team’s values.

“As an athlete, it’s important to stay healthy and bring energy to practice, so I really have to pick my nights out carefully in order to fulfill my duty as an athlete first,” Nardella said.

While there are concerns, Greek life enhances experience for many athletes.

Pressly said she joined because she felt she only knew athletes and wanted to expand her horizons.

“After joining a sorority, I know so many more people who I never would have met if I didn’t, so I’m really happy I did,” she said.

Nardella and Diggins also commented on their experiences, saying they’ve met some of their best friends through the brotherhood of the Greek system.

Nardella said having more athletes in Greek life could benefit the athletic program by giving the fraternities and sororities more of an incentive to attend Lehigh’s athletic events.

“It could create a better atmosphere at games or matches and bring the student body closer,” Nardella said.

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