From left: Seniors Nolan Coulter, Lauren Bright, Sibel Can, Matt Hand, Jack Lieb, and Gena Grundhoffer all discuss their experiences being student-athletes. (Photos courtesy of Lehigh Sports; photo illustration by Nicole Walker/B&W Staff)

Q&A: Senior student-athletes share what they have learned at Lehigh

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The Brown and White spoke with senior athletes from a variety of sports to discuss their experiences as Mountain Hawks in their time at Lehigh.

 

Q: What was your best moment as a Lehigh athlete?

Nolan Coulter (men’s soccer, defender): Definitely winning the Patriot League Championship. That was my senior year and, although I was injured, that’s something we came in — day one — as freshmen and talked about being our goal. Every year, we got a little bit closer, so to win it finally in 2019 is just a huge relief, and to walk away (from) a champion like that is something I’ll never forget.

Lauren Bright (volleyball, middle blocker): When my team made it to the Patriot League Tournament. I was still pretty young at that point, but it was just incredible because I felt new to college athletics in a way, and it was nice being able to see our hard work paying off.

Sibel Can (women’s tennis): My sophomore year in the Patriot League Tournament, we were playing the semi-finals against Navy, and we didn’t win that match, unfortunately. But, in that moment, all of the hard work we put in and energy was there. It really united us and brought the team forward for the upcoming years.

Matt Hand (baseball, shortstop/pitcher): Any conference series that we’ve had at home or even on the road is the most fun time for me, because we practice all year and anticipate those weekends. Just being able to compete during that time is one of the most significant memories from my experience.

Jack Lieb (men’s basketball, center): I wouldn’t really specify it to just one moment, but I would just say the number one memory I have is the relationships and friendships I’ve built through being a member of the basketball team.

Gena Grundhoffer (women’s basketball, forward): All the practices and games spent with my teammates is the stuff I remember most. Looking back right now, the things I remember most are the travel trips, just hanging out with my team and after practice, when we would all celebrate because it was a hard one. Mainly, just the people and the fun times I had with them.

Q: What was your worst moment as a Lehigh athlete?

NC: Tearing my ACL senior year, six games in. That was definitely the hardest thing for me. I’ve never been injured like that before. Luckily, I had the support of the whole team. I knew I couldn’t let this get me down or the rest of the team and that we still had a good chance to win.

LB: The hardest part is just the transitioning of roles from year to year. I think that starting my junior year, when I was lucky to be appointed captain, was a big shift for me because I personally am not a very vocal person, and my leadership is more by example. It was kind of difficult for me, (especially) feeling like I didn’t know how to embrace the role correctly. The next two years of being captain were challenging for me because I felt like I was always trying to be the best leader I could be, but without being something I wasn’t, in a way.

MH: It’s certainly disappointing to not have made it to the playoffs any of those four years.

JL: I dealt with a lot of injuries. I’ve had three surgeries during my time at Lehigh. I coped with it by just staying positive and taking a negative situation and not dwelling on it.


GG: This past year I didn’t really play as much, so I had to take up a new role on the team. At first, I struggled with that a little bit but, toward the end, I was able to completely buy in and have a new understanding of what it means to be a really good teammate and leader on the team.

Q: How has your experience at Lehigh changed you?

NC: Being able to build relationships and connect with people who ended up being like my family away from home is something I’m proud of and that I’m going to take with me the rest of my life.

SC: As you get older, and you’re in more of a leadership position, it’s not just about you anymore. It’s about making sure the team is doing well. I feel like it made me really self-aware about all of those things.

MH: I’ve become way more assertive, and I feel like I’ve been able to hone into my leadership skills being a captain this year on the team. All of those different parts contribute to the experience that you have here — and it’s probably been some of the best four years of my life — so I’m extremely appreciative to have been a part of the program.

JL: I’ve learned a lot about myself. I came in with a mindset that there aren’t a lot of factors out there that can contribute to a person, whether it’s growth or setbacks. Now, realizing four years later, that’s obviously not the case. There’s a lot of things that go into someone’s life.

GG: You learn a lot of tough lessons throughout your time being a college athlete. But, at the end of the day, you are able to develop the competitiveness and resiliency that not a lot of other people are able to get. I think that’s really going to help me move forward with going into grad school and the workforce.

Q: What have you learned from playing at Lehigh that you plan to apply to your future in school or life?

NC: Having an open mind, a good attitude and just always having the best work ethic you can are the three building blocks that will set you up for success.

LB: Time management is the thing that I’ll take away from college athletics because there are so many things that you’re a part of. Just realizing that you know you don’t have a lot of time, but managing it in the correct way, is what allows people to be successful with all of that going on.

SC: Being on a team, especially tennis, since it’s individual but a team sport at the same time, has really taught me what I can do on my own and what I can bring to a team.

MH: Always being competitive and always having that focused mindset, but also knowing that your role is very dynamic, and once it changes, you’re expected to pay it forward and do what others have done for you for so long.

JL: Learning how to cope and deal with setbacks and adversity, (and) turning adverse situations into positive situations. Also, bringing up those around you and sharing insight and motivation with them in order to better their progress and pathways, which eventually helps the team as a whole.

GG: You really learn to just put yourself out there, and that’s another thing I’m going to bring with me because I’m going to be moving to a completely new place (and) starting over again. Now I know what that feels like, and I think I’ll be a little more successful right off the bat.

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