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Results tagged “Transformation Tuesday”

Transformation Tuesday with Track & Field Senior Paige Lumley

Final Paige Lumley Transformation Tuesday.jpg

How have you grown as an athlete during your time at Pitt?
Lumley: Pitt has not only helped me grow as a student, but also as an athlete during the past five years. Participating on the track team and representing both the Pitt block and script has really shaped me into the person I am today. My events, the heptathlon and triple jump, directly correlate to everyday life; totaling 8 events, I have learned to manage a lot going on at once. Competing in the heptathlon has taught me more about life than I ever thought possible! Between the long, physically, and mentally draining practices, I have discovered peace in the satisfaction of overcoming what I previously thought was impossible. At meets I get to go out there and let all the hard work pay off. If it wasn't for this crazy multi life with constant practice of my time management, I would not have been as successful in earning my Bachelors in Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering while participating in such a tough program. My role as an athlete here at the University of Pittsburgh has trickled into so many other areas of my life and without the structure, discipline, failures, or lessons learned, I would not be me.

What has been your biggest accomplishment?
Lumley: Pitt has granted me the opportunity to accomplish a lot in such a short amount of time. One of my biggest accomplishments involved taking on the role of President of our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (S.A.A.C.) and all the experiences that came with it. Through S.A.A.C. I was able to attend a handful of ACC S.A.A.C. conference trips where I networked with other athletes and bounced a variety of ideas on how to shape the vision of how S.A.A.C. can help our athletes at Pitt. Thoughts of having an ESPYs-type event through the athletic department have lingered around for multiple years and I wanted to finally make it happen. With persistence and planning, the 2015-2016 S.A.A.C. was able to make that dream a reality. Last year marked the inaugural Panther Gala awards show and I'm beyond thrilled I have been able to leave such an impactful pawprint for years to come.

Favorite moment - a moment you'll never forget?
Lumley: Without a doubt, one of the coolest Pitt memories I will treasure forever was walking on Heinz Field with the rest of the 2015-2016 Homecoming court and taking in everything around me as I took home the title of 2015 Pitt Homecoming Queen. This would have never been possible without the help of my huge team and all their campaigning around campus. The experience prior to the crowning was amazing because I learned a lot about managing an election/ team and made some amazing memories and friends along the way.

Biggest surprise of your athletic career?
Lumley: Hearing my Achilles tendon snap was not on my agenda during my athletic career here at Pitt. At the end of my junior year with a few weeks left in our outdoor season, I took a tumble on the Ohio State's long jump runway after the loudest pop came from my body. I am a strong believer everything happens for a reason; that unfortunate surprise transformed into a 2-year growth period and opened many doors. I used my senior year redshirt as I rehabbed my way back to health and bettered my patience level in the process. I learned a lot about myself and a lot about others, too. Another surprise almost as big as the first was my determination to get back to the point where I can represent Pitt one last time out on the track, and in order to do that, I had to leave fear behind. It was very empowering to overcome such a huge obstacle and I will use the lessons learned for years to come.

Main goal heading into final season (or final year)?
Lumley: There are only a few weeks left in my final year of track and field. Talk about a mix of emotions! After overcoming such a huge injury and being granted the chance to compete for one last season, I have taken on every practice and meet with such a different mindset. My coaches have helped nurture me back physically and mentally; everything I do, I do with passion. As we are approaching championship season, I'm going to continue leaving everything on the track! When I actually realized such a huge part of my life is finally coming to an end, every single opportunity becomes a gift.

How have you managed to be a successful student and D1 athlete?
Lumley: In order to survive the D1 athlete lifestyle while still being the 'student part' of student-athlete, sacrifices have to be made. Most online "how-to balance your life" visuals show a triangle with headings: enough sleep, good grades, social life. In reality, as a D1 athlete, you need at least an octagon to split up and balance your time between all of the important areas... enough sleep, good grades, social life, proper nutrition, practice, lift, rehab/treatment, spirituality, relaxation, laundry, extracurriculars etc. The huge transition from high school to FR year of college had absolutely everything to do with this new and improved definition of the word balance. I can say with confidence that my time management skills are quite impressive and I will 100% use these acquired skills in my future careers.

Best advice you were given or any advice you must give to future student-athletes?
Lumley: Best advice I can give: get involved! College does not last forever... truth be told those 4-5 years fly by. Make sure you take advantage of everything Pitt has to offer both through athletics and not. You would be amazed how many activities the university has for "non-athlete students". Make friends outside of teams or from classes and truly let yourself enjoy these years where people discover who they are. By submersing yourself in communities around campus whether that be a church or art club, you are one step closer to becoming that well-rounded person Pitt is giving you the opportunity to be. Don't forget about the athletic department or your teammates though... some of my closest friends are from both the track team and other sports teams.

Has Pitt Life Skills played a role during your time here? Explain...
Lumley: Has Pitt Life Skills played a role during my time here... is that even a question?! I knew this extra factor was the one-up Pitt had on other universities I was considering. Ever since the Life in a Fishbowl program as a freshman, I was hooked on this development system. The dozens of programs I have attended over the years whether it was financial, self-defense, etiquette or leadership based, are main components of my growth as an individual. Pitt Life Skills has without a doubt done a fantastic job making us their priority and I can vouch that I am very well-rounded from all the exposure. The opportunities and open doors Life Skills has made possible is another reason why I have been impacted so positively. Networking with and through them have helped me tremendously and have even granted me the chance to do things such as present in front of the University of Pittsburgh's Board of Trustees. On a side note, I have formed amazing relationships with everyone in the office and I know I could turn to them for anything school, sport or outside related.

Favorite part about being a Pitt student-athlete?
Lumley: Being a Pitt student-athlete during these years of such change and transition has been quite the adventure. Through my S.A.A.C. membership (including involvement at ACC S.A.A.C. conference meetings), I've had a chance for my voice to be heard about different situations where us student-athletes could actually make a difference. Watching Pitt switch from block to script as part of the strategic planning initiative following our jump from the Big East conference to the ACC has been so, so neat. I love the amount of responsibility we are given as athletes here at Pitt and the respect as part of one of the power 5 conferences! Hail to Pitt!

Are you involved with any off-campus activities?
Lumley: As a graduated Civil and Environmental Engineer from my past 4 years in undergrad, I have eased up on the extra circular activities (such as ASCE, ESW, SWE) I had involved myself with since the start of grad school this past fall. I am currently working towards my MBA (Masters in Business Association) and have put a lot of focus into track for this last go-round of eligibility. S.A.A.C. was still an integral part of this past year and I'm so glad to have been part of it for all 5 years. I am also an active member in a small group through the church I attend and have loved going to AIA (Athletes in Action) bible study nights.

Transformation PJ DeMeo

How have you grown as a leader of this team?
DeMeo: I think that just happened by having awesome leaders ahead of me. I got to see some really great examples of how to do things. I was able to implement things I saw from them and use that with the team now. Also, with some of the pretty cool programs we went through as a team earlier this fall -those have absolutely helped shape us into leaders.

What has been your biggest accomplishment at Pitt?
DeMeo: Just being able to play at Pitt and represent my hometown. Being able to wear my city across my chest is pretty important. Pittsburgh is an awesome city to grow up in, and being able to play here has been an unreal experience - having Pittsburgh written across the front of my jersey is something that I'll never take for granted.

Do you have a favorite moment?
DeMeo: It was definitely last year when I homered at Grambling State. I hit a homerun in the middle of the game, and nobody said a word to me until we got on the bus about two hours later. Not a word. Not the coaches, not my teammates, not even on the field. I got the straight silent treatment for the remainder of the game. Then we got back on the bus, and everyone went nuts and started talking again. It's a baseball thing. But that was probably my favorite moment.

P.J. DeMeo

Any advice that was given to you that stuck?
DeMeo: The biggest piece of advice someone gave to me was to make other teams feel your pain. Coming from a blue collar town, we are always working. We have to wake up and go to 6 AM practice in the snow; we have to walk to the Cost facility. It's not fun. The best part of that was knowing when the season came, we could make people feel that pain by how we beat them. We could make them understand what we were going through while they were out having 70 degree practices.

Are you involved with anything else on or off campus?
DeMeo: I'm involved with CC Champions. You get paired up with a little kid who has cancer and you act as their "champion" to help the kids get through cancer. I'm matched up with Bryce - you can see I wear his wristband everyday. His name is written in my hat. It's awesome. Bryce has become a huge part of my life - I keep in touch with him probably once every other week with his mom and his dad. Unfortunately he has to come to Pittsburgh for treatment, but knowing for the hour that we get to hang out I can make him feel better is awesome.

I'm also part of SAAC, the student-athlete advisory committee. I'm the director of operations, it's my fourth year doing it. It's been awesome to be able to be a part of the athletics administration as well as represent my fellow athletes' voices with all of the cool legislative stuff going through the NCAA.

Transformation_Kaitlin_Manuel

Do you have a favorite moment since you've been at Pitt?
Manuel:
Absolutely. My sophomore year we went to NCAA Regionals and that was the coolest experience of my life. We beat Cal, we beat Oakland and then we played Michigan in the regional finals. It was the coolest experience playing in front of that many fans. It was really overwhelming, but being in that atmosphere was just amazing. It was a dream come true.

How have you become a leader of the team?
Manuel:
I'm not much of a leader by voice, I don't really tell people what to do - I'm not that loud voice. I am more of a follow me and I'll do what you're going to do type of leader. I'm not going to expect anyone to do anything that I wouldn't do.

We had a judgement day where The Program came in - they kicked our butts. But they made me step out of my comfort zone and do things I wouldn't normally do. For example, I had to run out there and lead an exercise group. I had to get on to people to do stuff - but the more I did it, the more people bought into the entire idea and had to pay attention.

What has been your biggest accomplishment?
Manuel:
I already have a job out of college. I'm going to be a business management analyst at a defensive contract company in Florida. That is exciting for me.

Last fall, I finally got the ACC Honorable Mention. I was really proud about that, it finally showed my hard work paying off.

Any life lessons or takeaways from your time at Pitt?
Manuel:
Accept change. I hate change. I'm originally from San Diego, so coming out here was such a huge difference. I'm such a homebody, but my parents made me leave. I am really grateful for that. Without them, I wouldn't be here. So really accept and embrace change and love it.

Transformation Josh McDonald

How have you been a leader on the track?
McDonald: Being a senior, I'm in more of a leadership role. We have a lot of new, younger guys and transfers, so I'm there to help them not only with track-specific things but with classes and getting around campus as well.

So far this season, we've had two meets - our season is upcoming this semester. This past semester, we've spent a lot of time doing conditioning. That's a tough time for us, doing more of the harder workouts. But before those practices started, I would voluntarily organize workouts to get everyone going. Now during practices, I make sure we're on top of everything - getting in and out of practices and going to classes.

What are you looking forward to the most during your senior year?
McDonald: Traveling with everyone. It's really fun going on some of the bus trips. We have some pretty funny guys on the team. I love the bus rides and spending quality time with the team.

Josh McDonald

What has been your biggest accomplishment or favorite moment?
McDonald: I would definitely have to say this past indoor track season. Our relay placed at ACCs and being on that relay team was a fun and eye-opening experience.

What is your favorite part about being a Pitt student-athlete?
McDonald: My favorite part is how student-athletes are part of their own group within the university. Everybody knows of each other or is friends with one another. It creates a nice little community with people who can relate with what you go through on a daily basis - practices, lifting, games, races.

Transformation Aysia Bugg

How have you changed as a player since you've been at Pitt?
Bugg: I've taken on much more of a leadership role - being more of a factor whether it be scoring or getting my teammates involved, defensively or whatever my team needs.

Even since my freshman year, we've really been thrown into the starting lineup pretty quick. My sophomore year, a lot of the seniors left, so a couple of us were forced to be the leaders. Even though we weren't ready, we took on that role. Coming into my junior year, I feel like I'm already a senior - I feel like I've been leading for three years. Showing my team mates the way - how to and how to not do things. I'm still learning myself. It's a learning process for everybody.

What has been your favorite moment so far?
Bugg: When they called our name on the screen (for the NCAA Tournament). They were in the last region and our name popped up - everybody was going crazy. All of the ESPN cameras were in our locker room and they were filming us. We really didn't know that we were going to get in. I think a lot of teams know they're going to get in, but we really had no idea. When they showed us on TV, we were jumping in the air, falling on the ground - it was great. I couldn't believe it. I was just excited. I didn't expect that.

How have you managed to become a successful student & DI athlete?
Bugg: Learning how to balance academics, athletics and social life. To succeed in academics and athletics, you need to find time for both. My time management skills have helped me successful most.

Pitt's Life Skills department has helped me with connections and internships. They also host the leadership conferences where they take a select few athletes from each team which helps us bond and get to know everyone else.

Do you have any advice to give to future student-athletes?
Bugg: Put the time in to everything, whether it be school or basketball. Even if basketball isn't something you want to do after college, just put the time in. If you want to be successful academically, put the time in. You're not just going to get good grades, put the time in and get the results you want.

Transformation Chris Jones

What does this experience mean to you?
Jones: It means everything. It has put me through so much and has shaped the person I am today. It's not always going to be easy and it'll be tough at some times as well, but it puts you through trials and tribulations that can shape who you are.

How have you changed as a player during your time at Pitt?
Jones: I think I have a lot more knowledge of the game now. Just knowing where to be on the court offensively and defensively. My body has definitely changed a lot in terms of strength.

Chris Jones

How have you managed to be a successful student and DI athlete?
Jones: I have been able to perform pretty well on the court and luckily I have already gotten my degree, so I have definitely had success in both.
One of the largest things I took from the Life Skills program is how to manage my money. I feel like that has helped me a lot with saving my money once I'm done here.

Best advice you were given or any advice you have to give to future student-athletes?
Jones: The best advice I've been given is whatever you're going to do in life, don't do it because others are doing it but do it because you want to. Advice that I have for future student-athletes would just be to buy in to what your coaches are saying. They may be tough on you but they really do want to help you.

Do you have a favorite moment?
Jones: I don't have one single moment, but just coming in here and getting to play in front of the Oakland Zoo is definitely my favorite. They are an amazing crowd and give us so much energy, especially during the ACC games. It's been fun.

transformation Kinga Cichowska

How have you grown as a swimmer during your time at Pitt?
Cichowska: When I got to Pitt, that was the first year of ACC swimming here. We were thrown in to the deep waters right from the start. I can see how the team and myself have grown up through the years. During the first year, we were very shy from not knowing the conference. I was not familiar with college-level swimming, either. After my sophomore and junior year, the ACC and college swimming feel like home to me now.

What are your main goals heading into your final season?
Cichowska: I want to make it my best season yet. Speaking about times, I want to swim faster and hopefully place better at the meets. I also want to just have a lot of fun and finish my athletic career in the best possible shape I will ever be in my life.

Everyone sets their own ideas about the team goals. But we definitely want to place higher than we ever have at ACCs. The highest we've placed has been eighth.

Do you have a favorite part about being a Pitt-student athlete?
Cichowska: I love when we sing the Alma Mater at the end of every swim meet. It's always the highlight! It's when the entire team comes together. During the meet there are a lot of ups and downs and there's so much going on. You're focused on your starts, warming up and cooling down. You try to be there for your teammates, but you're not always able to see all of their races. So this moment when we all get together at the end and celebrate the good meet we had, it's definitely a highlight.

What does the experience of being a Pitt student-athlete mean to you?
Cichowska: Coming to Pitt was undoubtedly the best decision of my life. Coming from Poland, it was a big decision. I get to continue my swimming career at the highest level and get a great education. I also get to be supported by a team. The team aspect is so huge here, but that's not always present outside of the U.S. I hadn't experienced the team aspect until coming here, and it's added so much to the sport and brought swimming to a completely new level for me.

Transformation Zach Lierley

How have you grown as an athlete during your time at Pitt?
Lierley: I think the biggest thing is just the transition from club to college swimming and becoming team-focused. Club swimming is more individual; you're more worried about getting in and getting your races done whereas college swimming is big in relays, dual meets and even championship season. It's about being the best in not only your races, but as a team. The energy that comes from the team helps all teammates and fuels performance. Coming into a family environment has been beneficial, especially through the transition. I've developed since I've been a freshman and the team culture has grown a lot even in just this year alone, which is great to see.

Do you have a big accomplishment/favorite moment as a Panther?
Lierley: From a combination of an athletic and academic standpoint, I was selected for the ACC All-Academic team my sophomore year. That was pretty big for me. One of the reasons I came to Pitt was because of the combination to develop in the classroom as well as the pool. Also, this summer I finished 15th at the Olympic Trials. After our college season ended, it was great to refocus and have a good swim this summer.

How have you grown as a leader of the team?
Lierley: As you get older, a lot of people on the team start to look at you and rely on the things you do to help guide them. One big thing that all of our seniors have tried to uphold this year is bringing positive energy, especially at meets. In the past, whether we've had ups or downs, we've allowed our energy levels to dictate how the meet goes. So as a senior class, we've tried to bring positive energy and take things one step at a time by focusing on the details.

Audrey Ann Blakely

How have you grown as a person during your time at Pitt?
Blakely: Our coach always says that coming to college you change from being a girl to being a woman and that you have to make that change quickly. So I think coming into my senior year, I feel comfortable in my routines and feel prepared to be a "real person" once I graduate which is a great feeling entering my last year at Pitt. I feel like I know what I'm doing and can definitely thank our Athletic Department and Life Skills, as well as the community at Pitt, for preparing me.

Biggest accomplishment? Favorite moment?
Blakely: Since our coach came in, that was my first year as well, I got to see a rapid change in the program. The biggest moments we had are our first ACC win, and our first win over a ranked opponent. I was fortunate enough to be the first ranked player for Pitt nationally - that was an amazing moment, and then I beat that record, too. Athletically, those have been really incredible.

Audrey Ann Blakely Action

How have you managed to be a successful DI athlete and student?
Blakely: The biggest thing from that is accepting that you can't be perfect. Just showing up every day in all aspects of school and tennis and planning has helped. Remembering that you're not totally in control and leaning to the community around us - like the academic support staff and coaches - and knowing people are there to support you and help you has helped me succeed the most.

Do you have a favorite part about being a Pitt student-athlete?
Blakely: The sports community in Pittsburgh and within Pitt. Feeling connected with a lot of the other sports and knowing that there are a lot of other student-athletes here that care about school. The stereotype that student-athletes are just at school to play their sport is not true for most of us. Pittsburgh is a really supportive city for athletes in general, and Pitt is a great school that gives us the opportunity to pursue our passions.

transformation mikey racciato

How have you changed as an athlete during your time at Pitt?
Racciato: My freshman year, I was pretty clueless and was looking up to older kids. I was thrown right into the lineup. Now that it's my fourth year, I know what to expect being in the lineup. Freshmen are looking up to me, asking me questions and looking for advice - I can relay that info.

Do you have a favorite moment?
Racciato: Individually would be winning an ACC title my sophomore year. But as a team, since I've been here, we upset No. 5 Oklahoma State my freshman year at the Fitzgerald Field House when we were ranked No. 13, so that was pretty cool.

mikey racciato action

How have you managed to stay ahead in your classes?
Racciato: My freshman year, first semester was when I learned everything. It taught me what it was going to be like for the rest of my career.

Our academic center is the most useful tool for me. My academic advisor helps map out my schedule - there's just so much help here that I'm not sure you can get at other schools. Without my advisors, I don't know how I would've done it. While I was here, I had tutors and review packs that I traveled with. I also have classes with some of my teammates, so it's not like I'm doing it all by myself.

Do you have any main goals heading into your final season?
Racciato: I would like to become an All-American. Our team is doing good - we are 3-0 so far. For our team, we would like to compete for an ACC title. That's pretty much everyone's goal this year and every year. I also want to graduate with a 3.0 and be on the ACC Academic Honor Roll.


What has been your favorite moment over the past five years?
Runco: My favorite moment was running my 8K personal record at ACCs which was a couple weekends ago. I ran 24:10 for the 8K, which was a good 22-second PR. That was my last chance ever to run an 8K, so I'm glad it ended well and I improved a lot. My first 8K was 27 minutes or so, maybe even slower. To work my way down to 24:10 was a pretty good experience - a good feeling.

What has been the biggest surprise?
Runco: The coaching changes. The right people came into play, and those people are the reason that I'm still in this sport and stuck through it until my fifth year. I'm very fortunate to have knowledgeable people who are directing so much of my training. The coaches I've had have been more in tune with what I have to do and other commitments; they've let me have schedules that favor what I'm trying to do. I've succeeded in the classroom and PR-ed in a lot of events. It was definitely a change for the better.

Do you have a favorite part about being a Pitt student-athlete?
Runco: Pitt is a good school. I was able to get the best of both worlds: pursue a sport I really care about at a high level and work toward a degree. Pitt provided what I wanted, a serious program and good academics.

transformation-dee-dee-adams

How have you changed as an athlete during your time at Pitt?
Adams: I came from a smaller school, so there were only three runners on my high school team. For me, it was more about being a team player and having girls to lean on, because I never really had that. I changed from just relying on myself to relying on my teammates and having a backbone - people to pull me through and pick me up when I was down. That's definitely the biggest change for me.

What has been your biggest accomplishment?
Adams: Being a student-athlete has helped me in the academic field. I've been told that I will be the first student-athlete to graduate in my major, and for me, that's huge. That shows that you only need one person to believe in you to get the job done.
Adams is a Communications Science Disorders major, with the goal of becoming an audiologist

Do you have a favorite part about being a Pitt student-athlete?
Adams: It's the holistic view about being a student-athlete. I take pride in going to class without showering [after practice]. I take pride in wearing my gear around. I take pride in getting on the bus and off the bus and having the chance to represent Pitt at different locations. That's something that not a lot of students get to do.


transformation adam bisnowaty

Does it feel like your career at Pitt has gone by quickly?
Bisnowaty: Yeah, these past five years have flown by. It feels like just yesterday I was moving in for training camp before my freshman season. Now that I'm here as a starter and team captain, it feels great to see how things worked out for the best. I'm really excited for my last season with this team and we're going to try to win a lot of games.

Academically, what are you studying right now?
Bisnowaty: I graduated with my communication degree and I'm working on my master's degree in health and fitness. I'd like to be a high school teacher and coach football.

I had a lot of mentors--teachers and coaches--who I looked up to growing up. I'd like to have that kind of positive impact on others in future generations.

How have you changed during your time here?
Bisnowaty: The biggest change is my hair. It went from a buzz cut to being well past my shoulders now. Two great friends of mine, former Pitt teammates Matt Rotheram and Ray Vinopal, told me that if I wanted to have more swag then I needed to grow my hair out. So I went out and did it.

And finally, would you like to share with the world how to pronounce your last name?
Bisnowaty: It's BIZ-NO-VOT-TEE. The "w" actually makes a "v" sound.

adam bisnowaty

transformation jenna potts

How have you changed as a player during your time at Pitt?
Potts: During my first year here, I was just coming off of an ACL injury so I hadn't played for ten months. I've grown a lot as a player and gained more skills. I wasn't very experienced before, but now I'm a four-year varsity starter.

I've also grown as an emotional leader on the court. I bring a lot of energy and I celebrate, whether I did something well or my teammates did something well. My team really relies on me to bring that energy and high spirits.

The coaching staff teaches us what the U.S. Women's National Team is being taught. That really helps us develop as players, because we are learning the best techniques and volleyball philosophy. I made the college national team this past summer, and I think that just shows how much I've improved since I've been here.

What has been your biggest accomplishment?
Potts: I am the all-time block assists leader at Pitt, which is cool and I didn't even realize it happened. I think my biggest accomplishment was making the Collegiate National Team, especially since I tried out the year prior. The second time I tried out, I made it and did really well there. It was really cool and so fun being there.

jenna potts

Do you have any advice you would give to a future student-athlete?
Potts: Most people [on the team] are used to being the star, but once you get to college, it's not as easy. Usually you're not going to get an automatic start, which means you have to work harder. You also have to sacrifice some things which is something I didn't realize. But it's all worth it in the end.

Are you involved with anything else on or off campus?
Potts: Right now I'm an intern with 31 Street Studios, which is a production studio in the Strip District. It's one of the biggest studios east of Hollywood. I've had other internships too including one at the Pittsburgh Film Office. I really want to get into the television or film industry. My dream job is to be on the writing staff for a sitcom or late night talk show.

My internships taught me the importance of networking, especially in the entertainment industry. I also had to learn how to interact with people I didn't know, which pushed my comfort zone. You always have to talk to people and put your best face forward, because you never know who you're going to meet.

Transformation Tuesday: Carly Thea

Carly Thea TT.jpg

How have you transformed as a softball player over the past four years?
Thea: "The biggest change for me has been my attitude. When I came in as a freshman, I was very serious and uptight. As I went on, I realized I needed to have fun. Softball is a game I enjoy and love to play, and it's important to have fun with it because after college that chapter of my life will be over. My senior year of softball has just begun and it's exciting because we are 5-0 right now. It already feels like the most fun season yet."

How have you managed to balance life as a student and a Division I athlete here at Pitt?
Thea: "Time management. Time management."
"I have learning disabilities so when I came in as a freshman it was a very hard adjustment from high school to college. I worked hard, completed my study hours and took advantage of the tutors. I was able to find my niche of what classes I enjoyed. I learned to adapt on the road and the seniors helped out the younger girls on the team. Now, I have a better GPA and I'm moving on to great things. Whether you have a learning disability, or you're having trouble adjusting you can find a way to get good grades. Pitt has the resources and your teammates will help you along the way. As a student-athlete, you're here to get a good education and win for your school."

It's only the beginning of your final season, but name your best Pitt Softball memory?
Thea: "It came this past Sunday when we were losing to a team that we had recently crushed. I believe we were down about 6-1. We found a way to come back at the bottom of the seventh. I was a third, we had someone on second and a freshman was up to bat. She hit a fly ball and I tagged up and then scored. We came back and won the game. Everyone charged the field and we were all jumping up and down screaming. It was an amazing feeling that will stick out in my mind for a very long time. I'm sure I've had those moments in the past, but right now that memory is fresh in my mind. It was both amazing and so much fun. It was crazy."

Do you have any advice to the next group of incoming student-athletes?
Thea: "One piece of advice I would give to those starting out is to just enjoy the ride. There will times when you are stressed to the max, you are going to be tired and you won't get back from a trip until 2 a.m., but remember it's all a part of the journey. You will have so much fun and you're going to remember your teammates forever. It's an experience that not many people have so enjoy it, because it will go so fast."

Carly Thea TT graphic.jpg

Transformation Tuesday: Max Thomusseit

One-on-One with Pitt Wrestler Thomusseit

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How have you changed as a wrestler throughout your time here at Pitt?
Thomusseit: "As a freshman, I remember being nervous. I come from a small town so Pittsburgh was a big city to me. To be honest, it was a bit a culture shock. I was extremely nervous even though I had an older brother at Pitt here with me. I quickly learned confidence is the key to winning. I did not have the confidence when I first came to Pitt. Now, when I go into a match, I expect to win. As a freshman you are a little timid, because it's a big jump from high school wrestling to college wrestling. If you can overcome that and gain some confidence in the process - it will help you become a better wrestler.

"Coach Peters is not only a great coach from technical aspects, but he also focuses on the individual person. He helps you not only achieve on the mat, but off the mat. Coach Peters has helped me become the person I am today.

"After five years of being here - you learn so much throughout the process without even realizing it. When I look back now, I really can see how far I have come." 

How have you managed to balance life as a student and a Division I wrestler here at Pitt? 
Thomusseit: "It's difficult to be a student and an athlete, but it's also very doable. I was lucky enough to get five years at Pitt and spread out my education. I also stayed over the summer to take classes. I never had an overload of credits so that definitely helped. The academics comes with being a division I athlete and if you want to do it then you have to commit yourself."

It's your final year and you have experience a lot of great success on the mat, but name your best moment as a Pitt wrestler?
Thomusseit: 
"Definitely winning the first ACC championship is going to stick out the most, because it was a whole team effort. It shows the hard work paid off and the coaches are doing good things here at Pitt. The wrestling program is being run the right way and we are heading in the right direction.

Although, I may be getting ahead of myself, I haven't had success at Nationals so if I could do that this year for myself, the coaches and for Pitt that would mean a lot. Pitt has done so much for me, and I have always wanted to give something back such as winning a national title for Pittsburgh. It's very possible that my favorite moment has not happened yet.



Transformation Tuesday: Tennis Twins

One-On-One with seniors Amanda and Molly Wickman

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How have you changed as a tennis player throughout your time at Pitt? 

Amanda: "I have grown a lot since freshman year. Although we had different coaches, I improved my game tremendously over the years. I am also more vocal and a better leader on the court compared to how I was freshman year."

What has it been like to attend school and play on the same team as your twin sister, Molly?
Amanda: "I'm really glad I went to Pitt with my sister. We are both very competitive, but we also push each other to become better. It's great to have my sister on the same team and also my best friend. 
"We are very close to the same level in tennis, but we are still competitive in anything we do, whether it's tennis or in school. We both work to do better than the other."

How has Coach Santos helped you become a better player? 
Amanda: "Coach has guided me to become an overall better tennis player. He's taught me to become more aggressive and come to the net more. He also taught me how to utilize my strengths, and I'm a much stronger player for it."

How have you managed to be both a successful student and Division I athlete?
Amanda: "Now that I'm a senior, I have learned to manage my time a lot better. You learn to study whenever you have that free time and prepare for tests way in advance. Overall, it's all about learning time management skills in order to balance life as a student-athlete." 

Name your best moment at Pitt?
Amanda:
"I remember sophomore year, I beat Rutgers in the final match, and it was the first time we ever beat them in Pitt history. It was a really cool experience for me." 

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How have you changed as a tennis player throughout your time at Pitt? 

Molly: "As a freshman, I was a little bit more nervous but after playing in more matches and gaining competition experience, I have learned to go all out in every single match."

Your twin sister, Amanda, mentioned you two share a competitive relationship on the court. What has it been like to attend school and play on the same team as Amanda? 
Molly: "It's all healthy competition between my sister and I, because we push each other throughout the year. We would not be where we are today if we did not have each other on and off the court. The two of us are always in competition whether it's running, lifting, etc. because we always want to outperform one another."

How have you managed to be both a successful student and Division I athlete?
Molly: "It's been tough to manage the life of a student-athlete, because going back and forth plus practicing can take about five hours out of your day. I learned to keep a tight schedule and make sure I know when I'll be studying and when I'll be practicing. The Pitt Athletic Department and our team has kept us in line and makes sure we are on top of our classes. Even with finding a job, I kept on top of it, and I already have a job set for after I graduate. I think working hard on the court and academically allowed me to get the job I have now as a treasury analyst for an offshore drilling company in Houston, Texas.

Name your best moment at Pitt?  
Molly: "Last year, in the ACC tournament, Katherine and I beat Boston College in doubles, or in the beginning of the season when I won my first singles ACC matches against Maryland and Wake Forest. It was very exciting because it was our first year in the ACC. 
"The ACC is more exciting and we get to play some of the best ranked teams, which pushes us to get better and to work toward becoming one of the top teams in the ACC." 

Transformation Tuesday: Cora McManus


One-On-One with Cora McManus

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How have you changed as a basketball player throughout your time here at Pitt?
McManus:
 "I can definitely say I've improved conditioning wise since freshman year. I remember struggling during my first summer of Pitt basketball conditioning, but now as a senior I can lead the freshmen through those difficult moments during workouts. Also, I'm stronger on the block. I'm able to go against bigger and stronger opponents. Even though I'm undersized, I've found I can still battle with the competition."

As you look back on your journey here at Pitt, what about yourself has surprised you the most?
McManus:
 "As a freshman, I definitely didn't imagine that I would be in the role I am now as a senior captain. I love helping my teammates out and keeping them encouraged through all the missed shots. 

"This journey has been amazing, and I would do it all over again. Bri Kiesel and I joke all the time that we have 'started from the bottom and now we're here'. The two of us came here on our official visit at the same time when we were 17-18 years old, and here we are now at 22 still together on this team. It's been great.

How have you managed to be a successful student and a Division I athlete?
McManus:
 "Over the years, you learn to really get into the swing of things. The academic center helps a lot, and Jenn (WBB Academic Counselor) has done so much with us whether it's scheduling classes or study hall. Freshman year was definitely an adjustment - I'm not going to lie about that, but I was able to finish my first degree in three years. Now I'm finishing my second degree as a senior. I've really been able to take advantage of what Pitt provides student-athletes, and I've used the resources to achieve my goals."

One-On-One with Senior Track and Field Thrower, Taylor Slaney

Taylor Slaney Transformation Tuesday.jpgPhotographs Courtesy of Pitt Athletics and Taylor Slaney.

Q: What has been the most surprising transformation over the past four years?
Slaney:
"Being on this team for four years with the same people you learn to develop your skill set, but more importantly you become a family."

Q: How has your mentality changed towards throwing from freshman year until now?
Slaney: "I have and will always want to win. I came in a bit naive as a freshman so I quickly learned that you don't always win and that was the hardest part for me."

Q: As a senior, what is the main goal heading into your final season?
Slaney: "Now that it's getting towards the end of the road, I need to get to nationals. The pressure heading into my senior year compared to previous years is much different.  Now as a senior, every meet counts more and more. It's stressful, but I work well under pressure. Last year, I broke a school record. This year, my only goal is to make it to nationals and to become an All-American."

Q: What has been the biggest surprise in your Pitt athletic career? 
Slaney: "If someone would have told me freshman year, I would break a school record and throw for 50-meters, I would have told them they were crazy. When I came in I expected to improve and throw far, but I would have never expected 50-meters. Breaking the school record was an awesome feeling. It had nothing to do with getting my name on some piece of paper. Personally, it was a huge deal for me."

Q: Personally, how did you acclimate to life as a student-athlete?
Slaney: "It was really, really hard for me coming in as a freshman and it still is hard for me. I have learned better ways to manage my time toward school work and being an athlete. I can never use being an athlete as an excuse, because we have the assistance at Pitt to be successful. During the season, we travel almost every weekend, but the time is available to get our work done. We bring our work with us almost any where - even our track meets, because sometimes that's what you have to do." 

Transformation Tuesday: Brianna Kiesel

One-On-One with Brianna Kiesel

Bri Kiesal Transformation Tuesday.jpg
Photos courtesy of "Pitt Athletics Glamour Shots" 

How have you changed as a basketball player throughout your time here at Pitt?

Kiesel: "I think as I look back, I can now say that I understand the game better. I'm more understanding of defenses and trying to get everyone involved. Also, I needed to figure out how to be a coach on the court. I'm working hand in hand with coach so whatever she says I make sure everyone else understands what they need to do on the court."

"I've definitely learned when I need to push the ball and when I need to slow down. I used to go 100 miles per hour all the time. Now, I understand that you need to know your player personnel to decide when to slow it down, when to get into offense or when it's time to push the ball."


This is why Brianna Kiesel is on of the best guards in the ACC #extrawork

A video posted by Pitt Womens Basketball (@pittwomenshoops) on



How would you say you've grown as a point guard and as a leader of this team?

Kiesel: "Being a leader is big. I've become more vocal and now get everyone involved. I used to be pretty quiet, which is funny and ironic because I'm the point guard and it's my job to make all the calls and I can't afford to be quiet in that role.  Now that I'm a senior, I've definitely learned to become more vocal."

 

What role has Pitt Academic Support played in your success in the classroom?

Kiesel: "Pitt provides a lot of different options for student-athletes such as study hall, life skills and you even have study hall on the road. They help you with everything you need in order to do well, which is why I have been successful."


It's your senior year and you have experienced a lot of great moments on the court, but name one instance you will never forget?

Kiesel: "My first ACC win against Virginia last year is something I will always remember. That conference win is something I will keep near and dear to my heart forever." 


Transformation Tuesday: Jessica Wynn

jessica wynn transformation tuesday

Q: How have you grown as a volleyball player here at the University of Pittsburgh?

Wynn: "Looking back over the past four years, I feel like a completely different person and volleyball player. When I came in, we did well my freshman year, but not nearly as well as we are playing right now. We are overall a better team. I finally feel like I'm a part of a program. Coach Fisher has taken over this team and he has changed the whole morale. Coach Fisher makes it more of an experience instead of four years and done. "

Wynn: "Athletically, I've become better especially because of Coach Fisher. He has spent a lot of time working with myself and every individual on our team. As a freshman, I came in as a hitter, but now I'm more of a dynamic player. I'm even a better passer, and that's because Coach has taken the time to go over the fundamentals."

Q: Do you ever look back on your freshman year, and are you surprised by how much you've improved as a player? 

Wynn: "Freshman year, I feel like I played with reckless abandon especially with feeling nervous during a game. I remember we played against Louisville my freshman year - I was praying that they wouldn't serve me, or set to me. In the end, it was really cool because we upset Louisville, but I distinctly remember how nervous I was during that match. It's funny to look back, because I've adapted into my role. I now have the most sets on the team this season. I've totally embraced that role, and it makes me laugh to look back because that once terrified me."

Q: What other changes have you noticed about yourself as a volleyball player?

Wynn: "A newfound confidence, which has developed from my close relationships with the team and my coaches. Freshman year, I was kind of in my own world, but now I truly feel a part of this program. There is so much mutual respect among my teammates and with our coaches. It gives me so much more confidence, because I know exactly what is expected from me."

Wynn: "We are an extremely close group. We choose to be best friends with one another. It's not, 'oh, this is just the hand we've been dealt'. We consciously make each other an important part of our lives. I fully plan on maintaining these relationships and staying in touch with my teammates once I am no longer at Pitt. Those close relationships do transfer onto the court. Recently, when we played against Syracuse, one of my teammates was hit directly in the face. Instead of consoling her, I knew she would want me to get her fired up and joke around. In sticky situations you know how to treat your teammates and how to react in any given situation."

Q: Looking beyond the court and into the classroom, how has Pitt helped you improve and adjust to the life of a student-athlete?

Wynn: "In high school, I thought of myself as an athlete only. As soon as I came to Pitt, they changed my way of thinking and emphasized the fact that you are a student-athlete. The expectations are set and maintaining your grades is a requirement. Even when Coach Fisher came here, he made it clear what his expectations were on the court and in the classroom. It's funny how it works, because when you're winning you become even more motivated. It makes you want to do even better in school and participate in more community service projects. Its as if you feel a part of something bigger than yourself and the goal is to make the experience special by doing all the other little things."   

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