CATCHING UP WITH COLLEEN GONZALEZ '14

CATCHING UP WITH COLLEEN GONZALEZ '14

What were some key reasons you decided to attend Guilford?

Guilford always felt like a second home to me. My sister (Kelly ’08) discovered the school since she wanted to go somewhere different than her classmates who chose to stay up north and attend state schools. Since my mom and I made regular trips to watch her play lacrosse, Guilford felt very familiar. When it came time for me to apply to colleges, Guilford was at the top. When I got accepted, I didn’t care about the other schools to which I had applied. I knew where I wanted to go. The fact I could run cross country and track and field was an added bonus.

What were some factors that helped you realize the success you enjoyed as a student at Guilford?

It was a hard transition for me in my first semester at college since I was away from home for the first time and I became homesick very easily. However I was excited to dive into my classes and start running with my new teammates. Soon enough, I became distracted about balancing my life as a student and being an athlete, not to mention meeting new people and starting an awesome job in the sports information office. Learning how to manage my time really helped because nothing became so overwhelming I couldn’t handle it. I started making connections with professors and my boss who were there to listen if I was having trouble and offer advice. I believe the connections you make at Guilford are a huge factor in success as a student because you have people who are looking out for you even after you graduate. They try to help you achieve the potential they have seen in you since the beginning.

What were some factors that helped you realize the success you enjoyed as an athlete at Guilford?

I saw competing in college as a clean slate. Nothing from high school mattered anymore and the only thing that mattered was getting better, which meant no unnecessary pressure.

A big, if not the most important factor, was the coaches. Despite the fact the team has been through a fair number of coaches, the ones that became a permanent fixture in the program made my experience that more enjoyable. Kim and Danny (Cash) were the best coaches around. They worked tirelessly to make sure they had everyone’s best interest when it came to workouts and constantly pushed us to work harder because that is how you see results. After seeing how much work they put into the team, I personally wanted to show it wasn’t a waste of their time. I developed confidence as a runner.

The best part was feeling like a member of a family because that is what we became. With a family of teammates that supports each other, you can’t help but want to push further and enjoy the idea of people pushing with you.

What have you been up to since you left Guilford?

After I graduated I ended up getting an internship in the sports information office at Bridgewater College in Virginia for the 2014-15 school year. Although I had been working in sports information throughout my entire time at Guilford, this time around I didn’t have classes or practice or Guilfordian responsibilities. I was in an office from 9-5, five days a week and once the school year started, I was working most weekends. It was a pretty big change since I was responsible for much more than I was at Guilford. I created stat crew rosters, set up games, sent game files to opposing sports information directors, wrote post-game releases and that isn’t even all of it! I really grew to appreciate the profession seeing how stressful and difficult it can be.

Shortly after the internship ended, and with a little help from (Guilford Sports Information Director) Dave (Walters), I was offered a job as Assistant Sports Information Director at SUNY New Paltz, which is an hour north of my hometown in New York. If I thought Bridgewater was a big change, I have way more to deal with at New Paltz since I am in a higher position of leadership, which is both scary and exciting at the same time. Everyone I have met is really nice, so I have a feeling this year is going to be filled with some interesting experiences.

How has Guilford prepared you for where you are today?

Guilford really taught me to think outside the bubble. Guilford was always referred to as a bubble because it is bit of an oasis in the midst of a larger city. Many people talked about going outside instead of just remaining inside. I think the bubble was so comfortable that most of the time a lot of students stayed where they were, at least in the physical sense.

In the classroom, I think we popped the bubble numerous times because we were constantly pushing boundaries as students and as people, whether it is for a class or a global cause. We were encouraged to consider different points of view and follow what we believe is right, even if others don’t necessarily agree but at least we could have a conversation about it.

In a personal sense, I believe my English professors really developed my love for words and writing because even if I am just writing a press release or constructing a feature story, I am always aware of the words that I use and try to figure out how to convey what I want to say.

What about your experience as a Guilford student-athlete has helped you the most?

I think one of the most important things I’ve learned is to not give up. I also realized the pleasure of proving someone wrong when someone doubted me. I was going to be taken off a 4x400 relay since Danny wasn’t sure I could do it because I wasn’t in the greatest of moods. I ended up proving him wrong and helped my team set a new school record. I relished the fact that I defied his expectations and it became my mantra. Being an athlete helped me realize that you should never quit (even when it becomes hard) and no one can hold you back even if they believe you can’t accomplish something.

What do you miss most about Guilford?

The question should be what don’t I miss about Guilford! I miss everything. I miss being able to hang out with my friends, visiting my coaches in the office and shooting the breeze, cross country workouts, the diner, working in the sports information office and chatting with Dave about everything, the quad in the spring when everything is green and lush, the English professors, spending time in the publications suite for The Guilfordian and Guilford basketball, because that was always the best part about the winter. I miss it all.

What are your future plans?

I am focused on the year at New Paltz and trying to get through it to the best of my ability. Hopefully I get to stick around for another year, but if that isn’t the case then the fact that I have this position underneath my belt will open more doors for me. Or I could completely change routes and see if I can do something with editing and/or writing. As nice as it is to think about what could happen down the road, I am more concerned about what is happening now and how to make the best of it so the future can be a little smoother.

What is one thing a high school student-athlete considering college needs to know?

It was important for me to find a school that not only had a major I wanted and classes that catered to my interests, but also where I could compete as an athlete. Since I wasn’t a Division I athlete, I didn’t even consider giant universities. Guilford had it all, plus it already felt like a home away from home.

Identify and describe one or two of your favorite moments or experiences while at Guilford.

No question about it, my favorite experience at Guilford was studying abroad in London. To this day I still am shocked that I traveled abroad to Europe and it wasn’t through a book! I dreamed about that city for my whole life, so I started researching how to go in the spring semester of my sophomore year. It was just so worth it. It was the best thing I could have done during my time at Guilford because it really made me grow as a person and show me that I can handle just about any situation. 

- Colleen Gonzalez '14