By Katie Benoit
As soon as freshman Ethan Lysiak received his acceptance letter into the Sports Management program he knew he would be attending Springfield College, despite living over a thousand miles away on the island of St. Thomas.
Lysiak and his family were excited about his acceptance. He had worked hard his last two years of high school to improve his grades and become a better student. Lysiak was born in Spokane, Washington, but moved to St. Thomas his junior year, when his father accepted a job opportunity.
“That was a blessing. I don’t think I would have gone out of state for college if I stayed at the school I was at in Washington,” he said.
Lysiak had only visited the campus of Springfield College once before making his decision, but knew there was something special about it. Perhaps it had something to do with Springfield being the birthplace of basketball, which just so happens to be his favorite sport.
He played point guard in high school and plans on trying out for the team this year. Lysiak also aspires to be an agent or general manager one day. When asked if basketball had anything to do with his decision, he smiled saying, “ A little – I’d be lying if I said it didn’t.”
Lysiak found out about Springfield College though his counselor who had helped a few other students apply in the past. He set up a tour and found the campus to be quite large compared to his high school, where he only had 36 students in his graduating class.
St. Thomas is part of the Virgin Islands, a U.S. territory located next to Puerto Rico, and is a large tourist destination. It is 32 square miles and has a population of 51,634 people.
Three weeks ago, Lysiak took a nine-hour plane ride to embark on his journey at Springfield College. As he sat on the plane, one of his initial questions was how cold Massachusetts really gets. On the Virgin Islands, the temperature is consistently in the 80’s every day, a drastic difference compared to the unpredictable weather in New England. “It’s palm trees instead of pine trees,” he said.
Other thoughts were about how big of an adjustment college would be and how he wouldn’t get to see his family until winter break. “It’s the first time I can’t just hop in the car and go see my family,” he said.
The major differences Lysiak noted about the Islands and Massachusetts are that everyone drives on left side of the road, however cars still have their steering wheels on the left side. Also many people who live on the Virgin Islands speak Creole.
Although, he was a bit overwhelmed the first day of classes, Lysaik has been adjusting well to Springfield College. He has already been playing pick-up basketball and is taking a few Sports Management classes. Lysaik feels that the people here have really helped make his transition an easy one.