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Springfield College students involved in Super Bowl Weekend

By Amanda Coelho

Whether it was on a common room TV or a janky laptop, Springfield College students were eager to tune in to the Super Bowl this past Sunday. SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, was packed with fans of all kinds, but three Springfield alumni and one current student were involved in the behind-the-scenes operations of the two teams.

Springfield prides itself on the quality of its athletic programs and areas of study. The most popular programs — Physician Assistant, Physical and Occupational Therapy, Athletic Training, Exercise Science, Sport Management — and many more in related fields are key motivators to prospective students. Many current students have taken advantage of these opportunities and tackle the difficult courses to reach their full potential.

With a total of 79 international students and 66.6% of the student population coming to Springfield from out-of-state, many are unseasoned to the athletic nature of the campus and are new to the unique atmosphere the school has.

Tim Christensen, a graduate assistant coach for the football team, reflects on the impact of Springfield College’s reputation and its programs linked to athletics on campus. “With our academic programs that have such high relation into every level of sport — whether it be P.E. in high school, college athletics, coaching, sport management, and the professional level — Springfield just gives students a realistic goal of what they could achieve when it comes to their career,” said Christensen.

The proof of this is evident with Springfield alums and a current student being involved in major sporting events of all kinds.

“Since I’ve been here I’ve seen a few — an example being on both teams during the Super Bowl, their athletic trainers were from Springfield College and that’s pretty impressive. Our program has good regards, is well respected, and can send out professionals to the sports teams and it’s great that they’re actually represented in the Super Bowl,” said Gary Berte, professor of Criminal Justice.

Seemingly far-fetched goals that students have are actually realistic– whether it be playing in the NFL or becoming athletic trainers at the professional level just like alumni AJ Smith ‘21 and Brendan Burger ‘08, who work full-time for the Rams. Sean Russell, a current student at Springfield also works as an intern for the Rams, and Allie Brennan ‘21 works as an intern with the Bengals.

This is one of the big factors that sets Springfield apart from other colleges.

NFL expectations and norms are also taking a turn. Christensen, who was a NEWMAC All-Conference selection for the Pride, stated, “I think there’s a difference in college sports right now with everything that’s going on. A lot of players beginning to look into transferring and not staying at the same spot, where I think in the NFL the teams are more so looking to find a home where they can try and develop and build a winning program — you know, as a Patriots fan with Tom Brady [and seeing Brady make the switch to the Buccaneers] — so I think a couple of differences is mostly in the mindset.”

Springfield College gives students the opportunity to reach their goals and gives students a unique experience in doing so. Students who may not even be football fans have felt prideful in the popularity and diversity of our academic and athletic community. The prominence of serious athletics also ensures that no student is bored on campus because there is always an event to attend.

Athletic staff, coaches, and trainers also believe in the importance of balancing school life with sports life. A typical schedule for a varsity student-athlete involves practices, lifts, and a required study hall, where teams come together in classrooms periodically to focus on academics.

With a balance in academics and athletics for student-athletes, they are not bombarded by their schedule like DI teams.

Berte, who has worked at larger universities with DI teams, stated, “I like DIII because students are held accountable as an entire person but also as a student and not just a star athlete who has a different kind of accountability. I think NCAA athletics here are a lot more meaningful because of the commitment to scholarships and learning along with athletics.”

Photo Courtesy AJ Smith

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