Student athletes are filled with ambition. They fight to win the game,
the match, the competition—as proven by these 10 female student athletes that will inspire you to push yourself further.
Jenna & Kelly Freitas
I play for the opportunity
to positively contribute
to a winning team.
I'm fueled by high-intensity racing that keeps me
coming back for more.
READ MAYA'S STORY
click the icon to listen
I play to redefine norms. I'm fueled by anyone who has ever told me I had to play a "girls sport."
Football | University of Rhode Island
I play to defy the odds. I'm fueled by my body's ability to regain strength after an injury, and the ability to continue to play for my team.
Track & Field | Emory University
I play to win. I'm fueled by knowing what it feels like to lose and working to be even better and stronger the next time.
Field Hockey | UMass Lowell
Swimming| Duquesne University
hover over photos TO rEad
Lacrosse | St. Lawrence University
I play for the women around me. I'm fueled by the goal my teammates and I are working towards when we step out on the field.
Tennis | Emerson College
I play for sportsmanship.
I'm fueled by the success of my team, and knowing that when I'm at my
best, so is my team.
Track & Field | Boston University
I'm fueled by the thrill
of facing someone that's better than me, and the challenge that comes with pushing myself farther than I thought I could go.
Basketball | Fairfield University
I play to be a part
of a community. I'm fueled by my teammates and coaches, who were there for me on and off the court when my dad passed away.
Soccer | Hampton University
I'm fueled by the adrenaline that comes with returning from an injury, and getting back to the grind on the field and playing better than before.
College Athletes On What Fuels Them to Never Give Up
READ MADISON'S STORY
READ JENNA'S STORY
READ KELLY'S STORY
I play for 70 minutes
of being fearlessly me.
Why We Play
I became passionate about football because it was a way to challenge myself. Every down that I played and every second I was on the field was different and required something new. I was pushing myself past my own limits, but also boundaries that others had set for me.
What about this sport sparked your passion for it?
Being a student athlete requires a lot of time and effort. It takes time outside of practice and outside of class, and doing the bare minimum isn’t going to cut it. You don’t have much personal time, and you have to be ready for that.
What's one thing people might not know about your life as a student athlete?
How do you take time to care for yourself and refuel after an intense practice or game?
"Ac feugiat sed lectus vestibulum mattis ullamcorper velit sed ullamcorper morbi tincidunt ornare massa eget egestas purus"
tap the sound icon to listen
After an intense practice or game, I like to first take care of my body by rehydrating and taking an ice bath. After that I like to go home and take a shower to make sure I'm clean. I stretch and make sure I'm eating enough to refuel my body.
Being a student athlete empowers me because I know that I'm able to manage my time. I know what I have to do and when to do it. It also pushes me every day knowing that I'm giving 100 percent of myself to more than one specific thing. Playing football in high school empowered me because I found a side of myself I had never seen before. I was confident and felt that I could take on the world.
How has being a student athlete empowered you?
The mantra that keeps me going is to have the heart of a lion. Lions are brave and courageous animals; they are also the king of the jungle. Playing football forced me to have the heart of a lion because I needed to be brave. I was the smallest on my team—but just because I was small and already at a disadvantage in the predominantly male sport, I knew my play routes and calls. I knew exactly what I needed to do. I had to be smart in times where, physically, I wasn't where most people were.
What's the mantra that keeps you going on the mornings where you don't want to wake up early for that practice or game travel?
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Another mantra I have is to climb the 10-foot ladder. When I was playing football, most of the guys had been playing for years and only had to climb a five-foot ladder in effort. Every single day I had to prove myself. Every drill, play, down, water break—everything had to be 100 percent. I didn't have someone creating the path in front of me—I had to create my own path for myself and for girls behind me who might wind up playing. I had to push double of what my team was doing.
If you tell Madison Christiana she can’t do something, there’s a great chance she will do it. And do it well. Passionate about football, Madison played on her high school team all four years. Despite being the smallest on her team—and the only female—Madison proves that anyone can play any sport that they want to.
For Maya Coe, nothing compares to the adrenaline rush that comes with long jumping. Continuously pushing herself to improve after every run and jump, track and field have empowered Maya to take risks with confidence.
Varsity Track and Field at Emory is my passion project. My passion for track stems from the adrenaline rush I receive from running and long jumping, the desire to continuously increase my track IQ, the competitive and team-oriented nature of the sport, and the thrill of developing and competing in an entirely new sport from the one (Artistic Gymnastics) I had been fully devoted to during the last 15 years.
One thing people might not know about my life as a student athlete is that my choice of Emory was guided by my fit and passion for the school and enhanced by the opportunity to be a collegiate athlete.
After an intense practice or meet, rest and recovery are key. I see the athletic trainers, ice, use the foam roller, stretch, and rehydrate with a lot of water and consume protein and nutrient-filled foods to help my body properly recover and refuel for the next day.
Being a student athlete has empowered me because it’s given me the opportunity to take new risks and challenges with more confidence and reinforces the value of discipline and investment in new endeavors.
The one piece of advice I wish I heard before beginning my sport in college is: be patient with your expectations and forgiving of your mistakes.
What's one piece of advice you wish you heard before beginning your sport in college?
The mantra that keeps me going on the mornings where I don’t want to wake up early for that practice or meet travel is: the team always comes first regardless of how I’m feeling, and I can’t expect to improve without being fully invested.
This interview has been edited and condensed
Jenna Freitas had one dream heading into college: Play field hockey. While certainly challenging, the journey taught Jenna that she can do anything she sets her mind to. As a student athlete, Jenna has always set big goals for herself, never doubting her abilities, and embracing all of the amazing things her body is capable of.
I think the uniqueness of field hockey sparked my passion for it. I remember seeing a field hockey game for the first time when I was in fifth grade and thinking, ‘wow, what is that sport and how do I play it?’ It’s not a common game so I wanted to figure out how to play it so badly.
It's one of the most rewarding experiences in the world and also a full-time job.
Being a student athlete has taught me how to prioritize my responsibilities, collaborate well with others, set big goals and, most importantly, know my physical and mental strength and the amazing things my body is capable of! It also taught me taking care of myself should always be my #1 priority.
Ice bath and a long hot shower. I also love stretching and doing yoga poses in the shower to relieve muscle tightness! Also, spending time with my teammates helps relieve stress and end the day on a happy note, even after a tough practice or game.
It's taught me that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. I have always dreamed of playing field hockey in college, so that was one goal I always strived for (ever since middle school). Working for that opportunity was certainly not easy, and I never take a day of field hockey for granted. It's taught me that I have so much more physical and mental strength than my body lets me think. It's taught me to push myself for my teammates because together we are better.
Don't ever be scared or intimidated. Play with everything you have. You are going to experience the BEST four years of your life, so play the best you can for those four years and don't EVER doubt yourself.
Well, my first thought is “this sucks,” but then I remind myself that no one else is getting up this early; no one else is putting in this work and no one else has this mental toughness. Don't hit snooze, it's going to be worth it.
“Just get up and do it,” is the mantra that keeps field hockey star Kelly Freitas coming back for more. Her love for the sport is as strong as her passion for showing up each day to become better than the last, and she’ll never give up on that. Since starting her field hockey career as a middle schooler, Kelly went on to be a division 1 athlete.
My twin sister Jenna and I were really into ice hockey when we were younger and always wanted to play. It never worked out for us, but the year before we started middle school, we were introduced to field hockey. When we saw our first game, the sport looked so fun. I started playing field hockey a year after my sister did. She was a superstar her first season playing, and I realized I wanted to get out on the field with her. We made a pact that we'd play different positions so there would never be competition.
It's practically a full time job. My coach was like my boss, evaluating my performance constantly, scheduling our week with practice, lift, games, and recovery time. It was difficult to balance classes, homework, being a division 1 athlete, and still having a social life. However, my full time job of being a student athlete gave me so many skills that have helped me shine. I'm always on time, I prioritize responsibilities, I am receptive to feedback and my peers have called me a true team player.
After a tough practice, we would always jump right into a 10 minute ice bath. We would also try to stretch and do yoga to keep ourselves nimble and healthy. But the best thing I could do to decompress was to find another interest completely different from playing a sport. I grew up loving to draw, so I'd try to work on some personal projects of hand lettering or illustration to refresh.
The piece of advice I wish I heard before I started playing in college would have to be ‘stick with it. This is going to be the hardest experience of your life to date, but it is going to be amazing, and fun, and worth it."
When I don't want to wake up for a practice or game, I try to remind myself how lucky I am to have an opportunity to play at this level. Our coaches would always remind us that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, and that the community of field hockey players that came before us are cheering us on. I would also remind myself that today is only going to make me better. Better at my job. Better at my position. Even better as a person, just get up and do it.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Swimming is a demanding sport, but it’s no match for Mia Beyerl’s drive. After joining her local swim team at a young age, Mia became enthralled with the sport, setting personal goals and dreams in a journal and working hard to make them a reality. Since then, Mia has accomplished things she never thought were possible, reminding herself that she does this all for that little girl who discovered a passion for swimming.
I developed an undying love for the water at four-years-old when I was leisurely swimming at my neighborhood pool. The thrill of being able to dive underwater, move around, and then re-surface for air was exhilarating. After badgering my parents to take me to the pool each day, even during the brisk, polar-vortex nature of winters in Pittsburgh, they decided to enroll me in the local swim team. Soon enough, I bonded with friends who shared the same love for swimming, but simultaneously developed a competitive edge.
Honestly, swimming is overlooked as a sport. It’s not until the Summer Olympics roll around every four years do people gasp in awe of Katie Ledecky, Ryan Lochte, or Caeleb Dressel on an international stage. Even then, people don’t fully understand the level, intensity, and frequency of training required for an excellent race. In my opinion, swimming differs from many sports, and training at a Division 1 level means leading a completely different lifestyle than a regular student would.
Swimming | Duquesne University
As each year passed, I jotted down my personal goals in a tiny journal that I peeked at in-between classes and before afternoon practice. I became enthralled with training to achieve these goals, and then actually bringing them to fruition during the championship season. Because of this, I realized that swimming gave me the opportunity to be a supportive leader and encouraging catalyst to my teammates—which is exactly where I found my purpose.
After a weekend, my teammates and I would wake at 5:30 a.m. Monday morning for our first swim, do a HIIT workout, attend classes, eat lunch, swim a second time, spend the night studying, and then repeat. We spent roughly 20 hours in the pool each week for about seven months in preparation for our conference meet, which would include “doubling” three days a week, and single workouts for the remaining three days. It became exhausting, and difficult when faced with pressure to flourish academically, eat right and maintain muscle mass, sleep well, and lead a mere social life. And even during the “off-season” and summer, daily training is expected. But ultimately, the pain and struggle makes being a student athlete so special—not everyone has the same drive and commitment to do so.
There are so many components that go into recovery: hydration, stretching, re-fueling, etc. After an intense workout, I would drink a protein shake and at least 32 ounces of water, followed by a protein and carb-heavy meal. After, I’d do some stretching or yoga and ice-down any sore muscle groups. A solid eight-hour sleep is key as well, although not always feasible with homework and other commitments.
Being a student athlete has pushed me to heights I questioned being capable of! Balancing the demands of school, swimming, and other campus affiliations is tiresome, yet so rewarding when you can thrive in every aspect. Capitalizing on the opportunity to positively contribute to a winning team inside—and outside of the pool—fuels me with good energy as well.
To appreciate every moment shared with my teammates. There is something so special about training alongside your friends and having the platform to motivate them during the day-in, day-out grind—truly, there is no stronger bond than one formed during these times.
Also, to appreciate high-intensity racing. Equally, there is something very special about training hard for a whole season, tapering and resting, and getting “in the zone” to execute the race you envisioned.
“Remember how you started” always strikes a chord with me. It’s hard to see the full picture when you only have a microscopic view of the next meet, or next three-hour practice, so I try to remind myself WHY I commit myself—for the young girl who once fell in love with the water.
To Colby Hoffman, lacrosse is more than a way to release her inhibitions—it’s a chance to be surrounded by empowered and ambitious girls who push her to do better in her sport, academics, and future career endeavors. She has been fortunate to play alongside some impressive athletes, and when she steps out on the field this year as one of her team’s senior captains, Colby hopes to do the same for her teammates.
I began playing lacrosse when I was very young—around the 3rd grade. I was a very active kid and enjoyed having an outlet to let loose aside from school, arts, and everything else. What I loved most was being on a team with other girls around my age who have a common goal in mind. To this day, little has changed about that for me with lacrosse. I love having a team of empowered, forward-thinking collegiate women around me to get the job done on the field and in the weight room, while also inspiring me and pushing me in academic and career endeavors as well.
Student athletes really have to get a handle on spinning many plates at once—between classes, lifts, practices, team/coaches meetings—and if we have any extracurricular or on-campus job commitments, sometimes it can feel like we don’t have any time to eat or sleep. Typically, athletes are up early and go to bed late—however, this is one of the sacrifices student athletes have to make in order to achieve success in their sport. Oftentimes we learn different tricks—doing homework on the bus to an away game or in the trainer’s room while getting treated before practice. We always have to make use of small pockets of time!
Being a student athlete has helped me contribute to something larger than myself, and has also allowed me to appreciate the opportunity to play a sport at the collegiate level. I have been able to play alongside some great players who have taught me so much, and I am really looking forward to being able to pass that on this year as one of my team’s senior captains.
One piece of advice I wish I heard before beginning my sport in college would be to not be afraid to ask for help or seek out resources when you need them.
I think a student athlete’s schedule can get pretty overwhelming, and there are many, many faculty and staff on college campuses who want to help student athletes be successful. Whether it be an extra review session one on one (sometimes our eyes can get heavy during an 8:30 a.m class when we just had a 6:30 a.m conditioning practice!), or scheduling a make-up exam that is during an away game, forming relationships and having clear communication with professors, coaches, advisors, etc. will help student athletes make the most of their collegiate experience and will give them the tools they need.
“Make yourself proud."
What's the mantra that keeps you going on the mornings where you don't want to wake up early for that practice or game travel?
Tennis is more than a sport for Thea Nagle—it’s an activity that has equipped her to be strong, confident, and never give up. With her “I’ll show you I can” mentality, Thea wants to prove to young women that they can succeed in whichever sport they want.
Tennis is a part of my family. It defines who we are and where we came from. It was a game that was passed onto each generation. The court is a gathering place for us to spend time with each other. It is a special spot where we help each other grow and learn as individuals.
In my experience many student athletes identify more so with being an athlete as opposed to being a student. I do love my sport and my team, and I equally love my major and school. Many people know me solely as being a member of the tennis team, but that is not all I want to be known for. I am proud to be on the tennis team, but I do not want that to be my only identity. Tennis has impacted me in much more significant ways than just being able to identify as a tennis player. Tennis is the reason I am the strong, confident, independent woman I am today. It has helped me grow as a person not only on but off the court.
After intensive practices and games, I always set aside time to cook for myself and my friends. Cooking is a therapeutic way for me to relax and properly refuel my body with what it needs. My diet and health are extremely crucial to me, and cooking allows me to find creative ways to maintain a healthy diet. It also serves as a way for my friends and me to take a break from our busy lives and spend time together.
Making a difference at a student’s respective institution can be challenging because of the size of a student body. There are numerous ways to make a difference on your campus and represent your school. Tennis is how I contribute to the culture of my campus and represent my college. I attend a school for communication and the arts, so sports do not attract as much attention as they would at other schools. I feel empowered by being a part of the small percent that represents athletics at Emerson College, and specifically women’s tennis.
Your team comes first, but do not let that hold you back from forming relationships with other students. When I came to school, I thought that I had to spend all of my time with my team, and that they would be my only friends. It’s easy to get caught up in the separation that already exists between different sports and social groups. It made it harder to get to know other students and learn about their personal experiences. I wish someone told me to take time to meet other students, and to not have an excluded mentality that I could only socialize with my team.
My mantra for games, practices, and training sessions is always the same: “I’ll show you I can.” I believe I can succeed in whatever I do, and it’s my confidence that fuels me and keeps me going. I’ll show you I can do it because I believe in myself and no one can take away the confidence I have in myself.
I have always been a busy young girl—interested in dancing, sports, and extracurricular activities. Soccer has been a part of my father's family for some time, so it’s always had a soft spot in my heart. I started playing when I was four and fell in love.
I take a lot of naps, and am always on the go. Since I have practice right after my classes, I have to finish my work earlier than other students, so that when I wrap up practice, I’m able to shower and nap.
After games and practices, I usually take a shower and a good nap. Sometimes I put a face mask on and just relax with some calming music. I believe in always checking in on yourself as a student athlete due to the hectic schedule you have while in season.
Being a student athlete has empowered me to always push myself. As someone who is constantly taking running tests and having to push myself for that last lap, I have come to a point in my life where I am able to always push myself for that extra mile, whether it be academically, physically, or socially.
Get a planner! You can manage your time, but if you don’t have a planner to manage your schedule, it can get very messy.
My teammates—it’s really great that I have all these girls who are grinding just as hard as me. We all have a goal, and that is to be better in the next play. So, with that comes dedication and staying committed to the plan.
Leslie Jaiyesimi has always pushed herself to do more, from challenging herself on the field to extracurricular activities off the field. Athletics have empowered Leslie to always go the distance, whether it be physically, academically, or socially. Continuously hustling and putting in the hard work, Leslie’s dedication to her sport means that she’ll be ready for and even better in her next play.
After watching her cousin win a basketball championship, Samantha Kramer knew she wanted to do the same. Now a college athlete, Samantha is passionate about her sport and hopes that she—like her cousin to her—can inspire future student athletes to fall in love with the game of basketball too.
I grew up watching my cousin play basketball and seeing him win championships inspired me to want to do the same.
I think it is underrated how hectic a student athlete's schedule can be. Not just with classes and practices, but the time it takes to prepare for a practice or for a game. Even the traveling to get from one game to another. It truly is a large commitment to be a student-athlete at a collegiate level.
I give a lot of credit to the coaches and trainers I have at Fairfield University. They do a great job informing each player about what is best for them and for their personal routines throughout a season.
Being a student athlete puts me in a position to be a role model for younger kids who might have the same love for basketball like I do. Every student-athlete has the potential to influence future generations.
I think something that isn't discussed often is mental health. I think every player needs to pay just as much attention to their mental health as they do to their physical health. Being mentally stable and 100% focused throughout the season plays a major role in an athlete's performance.
I don't normally think of a specific mantra, however I am always motivated to be better, whether it by my teammates or by self-motivation.
Running may be a strenuous sport, but Kami Rieck refuses to slow down. Instead, Kami embraces the challenges that life throws her way, reminding herself of why she loves what she does. Never letting self-doubt limit her, Kami has developed a resilience and channels her strength to keep pushing forward, not only in running but in every other area of her life.
I've learned that life is just a series of challenges, which makes it beautiful and rewarding. It's going to be hard either way, so you might as well choose to exert your top effort. This is how I look at it. Remind yourself why you do what you do. For me, I want to be strong for myself, the people surrounding me, and the individuals who struggle to recognize their own strength.
The inferiority complex is completely normal, regardless if anyone openly speaks about it. The ability to successfully balance academics, sports, sleep, and social life is an ever-going challenge. Don’t let self-doubt get to you, and remember to not view other people's success as a personal failure. Comparing yourself to others or doubting yourself is robbing from an opportunity to grow.
Running has taught me that innate or natural talent has no limit on me. I was never someone who excelled at sports in middle school and was actually pretty average. Running is more mental than physical, and it takes lots of strength to convince yourself to keep pushing, to give more than you gave before. I've developed resilience through this, and I not only apply this to running, but also to challenges in every other area of my life.
Friends, friends, and more friends. Human connection is so important to me, and surrounding myself with people who support me during the best and worst times gives me the inspiration to keep going. It allows me to give to all of the other aspects of my life—school, internships, and extracurriculars.
Running is interwoven into everything else in my life. My eating habits, sleeping habits, thought patterns, and workout routines impact my performance. So even though I might dedicate only a few hours a day to running, I am cognizant of every choice I make as it affects my performance.
There's a certain challenge that comes with running competitively—each time it makes me push myself to be better than the previous run. Running is arduous, tiring, and takes great mental strength. But, the rewards of being able to train my mind and my body to give it all at the end of the day go beyond the track.
10 College Athletes On What Fuels Them to Never Give Up
-Madison Christiana, Football Player, University of Rhode Island
-Maya Coe, Track & Field, Emory University
I'm fueled by my body's ability to regain strength after an injury, and the ability to continue to play for my team.
-Jenna Freitas, Field Hockey Player, UMass Lowell
-Mia Beyerl, Swimmer, Duquesne University
I play for the opportunity to positively contribute to a winning team. I'm fueled by high-intensity racing that keeps me coming back for more.
I'm fueled by my teammates and coaches, who are there for me on and off the court- when my dad passed away, the game of basketball gave me a support system I'll forever be grateful for.
I'm fueled by the adrenaline that comes with returning from an injury, and getting back to playing even better than before.
I play for sportsmanship. I'm fueled by the success of my team, and knowing that when I'm at my best, so is my team.
-Samantha Kramer, Basketball Player, Fairfield University
-Leslie Jaiyesimi, Soccer Player, Hampton University
-Thea Nagle, Tennis Player, Emerson College
-Colby Hoffman, Lacrosse Player, St. Lawrence University
I'm fueled by the thrill of facing someone that's better than me, and the challenge that comes with pushing myself farther than I thought I could go.
-Kami Rieck, Club Track & Field, Boston University