For Mount student-athletes, being a Knight is about so much more than winning games. It’s about being a team player not just on the field, but also in the classroom, at the college, and in the local community.
Excellence on and off the field
One of the foundational elements of collegiate sports at the Division III level is a focus on academic achievement. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), “Academics are the primary focus for Division III student-athletes. The division minimizes the conflicts between athletics and academics…keeping them focused on being a student first.”
Here at the Mount, athletes perform well both on the field and off. In the 2016-2017 year alone, 111 Mount student-athletes made it onto the Skyline Conference Academic Honor Roll. And the grade point average for student athletes for the Fall 2017 semester was 3.072, with three teams (Volleyball, Women’s Basketball, and Men’s Tennis) averaging above a 3.4 GPA.
"I am extremely proud of our student-athletes for their strong performance in the classroom,” noted Athletic Director Jessica Mushel on the student athletes’ academic achievements. “This is what Division III collegiate athletics is about, performing both in the classroom and on the field of play,"
In addition, the Women’s Lacrosse team was named to the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Academic Honor Roll for the 2016-2017 academic year. The Mount is one of 308 schools to earn Academic Squad Honors over all three NCAA divisions and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
As a prospective Nursing major, senior Cindy Connoly was attracted to the Mount’s softball team because the college made it possible to play a sport while majoring in the time-intensive field. Seeing other Nursing majors on the roster gave her confidence that she could achieve both academic and athletic excellence.
“Being a student-athlete has helped me perfect my time management skills,” she noted. “I have become very good at balancing my time between schoolwork, clinical, and softball.”
Fellow softball and nursing alumna Victoria Goldbach ’16 found that being part of athletics at the Mount contained so many more opportunities than just playing a game. The Nursing major graduated from the college’s Honors Program and received the American Nurses Association Future Nurse Leader Award at graduation. Just a week after graduating from the Mount, she was offered her dream job as a NICU nurse at NYU Langone, where she is still employed.
Goldbach, who is also currently an assistant softball coach for New York University, said that her Mount experience “provided opportunities that extended beyond the walls of the classroom. It allowed me to become well-rounded as a student, athlete, and leader on campus. My involvement in diverse activities from academics to athletics to student government stood out to many employers post graduation. I will be forever grateful to the Mount for allowing me to participate in each and every aspect of college life while balancing a challenging academic load and competing in a varsity sport.”
Part of a family
At a close-knit college like the Mount, it is easy to see the student body as an extension of one’s family. Student-athletes at the Mount gain another even more intimate family in the form of the athletic community.
For sophomore Psychology major Diamond Umunna, who is on both the Cross Country and Track and Field teams, the best part of the athletics program at the Mount is the support she receives from all sides.
“What I enjoy about being an athlete at the Mount is that everyone helps in whatever way they can,” she said. “My coaches particularly support me, and my teammates encourage me to do my best and never give up.”
That community is something that Carlos Valdez ’12, who was named to the Mount’s Athletic Hall of Fame for his outstanding basketball career at the college and as part of the International Basketball Federation, still values, with impacts that resonate in his life more than 6 years later. “Being a student athlete gave me a family away from home,” he reminisced. “It provided a support system and discipline that kept me in the right track all through my four years. It helped me develop leadership skills and team skills that now I use in the real world when I played professionally overseas or at my current job."
Student-athletes at the Mount also benefit from coaches and administrative staff who are just as passionate about their sport as they are. For example, Athletic Director Jessica Mushel has been playing softball since she was young, and went on to become a softball coach at the Mount prior to becoming athletic director. Mushel, who was appointed athletic director in July 2017, joins less than 25 percent of collegiate athletic departments with female athletic directors, and enjoys mentoring student athletes at the Mount both on and off the field.
“Working with young student-athletes to help them develop and grow not only as athletes, but also as people, is an extremely rewarding experience,” she said. “Having the chance to establish relationships with seniors in high school and watch them grow and mature through their four years of college is fulfilling, especially when you play a crucial role in that process.”
Knights in the Community
Knights in the Community, an initiative on behalf of the Athletics department at the Mount, provides opportunities for Mount student-athletes to give back in various ways to the local community.
For example, the Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams recently spent their Saturday afternoon volunteering at the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley, sorting items and packing boxes.
A few weeks prior, the Men’s Basketball team hosted the Newburgh Boy Scout Pack 105 for their annual Basketball Day event, which included the Mount players mentoring the young scouts and competing in dribble relays, shooting contests, and more.
Other past service projects have included assisting at the Special Olympics, tutoring at Northeast Gateway to Freedom, and a drive that yielded more than 3,300 diapers for Baby Steps Pantry in Newburgh.
The student-athletes enjoy the opportunity to give back to the community.
Alberto Gilman, a junior Public Relations major and member of the Men's Swimming team, appreciates the opportunities to serve. "What I enjoy being about an athlete at the Mount is that the Athletic community is very involved off campus," he said. "Many of the teams do off-campus service projects and other fundraiser-type events which help the community and show that we are a student community that cares. "
Men’s Basketball coach Ryan Kadlubowski said his players always look forward to hosting the scouts for Basketball Day each year. “Being able to put smiles on all their faces is what it's all about…they all make a personal connection with each other that lasts forever. They remember all of the guys' names and their numbers, and we see a lot of the kids and their families attending our games and supporting our team while wearing our jerseys. So we are just glad and thankful to be able to return the support."
The Knights have always enjoyed athletic excellence; in fact, the Knights have won at least one Skyline Conference championship every year since 1995, with seven teams having made NCAA tournament appearances since the program’s beginnings and students consistently receiving accolades from the Skyline Conference. Most recently, the Men’s Soccer team advanced to the NCAA tournament after winning the second Skyline Conference championship in the program’s history.
The end game for the MSMC Knights, however, is simply participating in a sport they love. Blake Keenan, a senior Accounting major on the Men’s Baseball team, attributes the Mount’s athletic success to the genuine passion that all of the players have for their sport.
“Everything at the Division III level is for the love of the game,” he notes. “Most aren’t expecting to play past the college level competitively, but everyone shares the same passion and respect for their sport.”
Become part of the team
Are you ready to become a Knight? Learn more about our 21 Division III sports teams and dozens of intramural activities at msmcknights.com