By Nathan Lindquist, Sports Information Director
August 11, 2015
More than 500 student-athletes currently attend the University of Chicago, and each one of them has a story to tell. Student-athletes on campus possess a unique combination of responsibilities and goals. As students first, they endeavor to be leaders in their field of study. As athletes, they strive to emerge victorious on the field of competition.
Each week during the competitive year, one male and one female student-athlete are highlighted as Order of the “C” and Women’s Athletic Association Athletes of the Week. The weekly OOC/WAA awards were introduced in 2012 in order to recognize student-athletes for their accomplishments and exceptional attributes. In-season head coaches nominate their players based on a variety of factors such as strong leadership, continual improvement, dedication to the team and on-field excellence.
A total of 56 individuals received OOC/WAA status during the 2014-15 academic year. The decorated group included 14 All-Americans, 7 All-Region athletes, 3 University Athletic Association Most Valuable Players, 8 UAA individual champions, 30 All-UAA performers and 32 UAA All-Academic selections. Whether they are stars or substitutes, seniors or freshmen, the diverse collection of OOC/WAA honorees all made big contributions to their teams’ success.
With summer in full swing, UChicago’s returning student-athletes remain busy with travel, additional course loads and internships. The recent graduates entering the work force or pursuing further education look back with fondness at their time spent as a Maroon.
The complexity of the human brain is a fertile field for research. Senior volleyball player Maren Loe has jumped in with both feet during her summer break. She is currently working as a research assistant in a theoretical neuroscience lab at UChicago after previously working with neuro-imaging data at a lab in Minneapolis, Minn. Upon graduation, Loe hopes to pursue a career in medical research.
Compartmentalizing is key for Loe during her collegiate career. She spends the fall season playing outside hitter for the Maroons while simultaneously balancing school work and volunteer activities. Loe capped a historic 2014 season with a school-record 617 kills – University Athletic Association (UAA) Most Valuable Player and Honorable Mention All-American accolades followed at the end of the year.
Loe says her athletic experiences help develop skills that she puts to use in research settings. Teamwork, delayed gratification, and the ability to accept constructive criticism are paramount to her success athletically and academically.
“The rigor with which the scientific community scrutinizes new ideas is similar to the level of detail a coach uses to scrutinize technical aspects of volleyball,” says Loe. “I value constructive criticism from coaches and teammates, because accepting suggestions and paying attention to details make me a better player. Similarly in research, critical suggestions can make an experiment more rigorous.
“Volleyball has taught me to learn effectively from others, rather than taking comments personally,” Loe continues. “Additionally, the level of self-motivation and discipline required to be a successful [Division III] athlete have translated into perseverance to succeed in difficult upper-level math and graduate-level neuroscience courses.”
Jorge Bilbao is also furthering his education during the summer months. Now entering his senior season on the UChicago men’s soccer team, Bilbao is taking a biochemistry course and performing community service work. The Maroon midfielder was a Second Team All-UAA selection in 2014 and helped his team qualify for the NCAA Tournament with an undefeated conference record. He aims to attend medical school to become a doctor.
Bilbao has learned a number of important skills to help him thrive as a student-athlete, including leadership, time management and teamwork. “Working together with my teammates to accomplish our goals has been the best part about being on a varsity team,” he says. “Setting the example for my younger teammates has also been great because it has brought out the best in me as a player and teammate. Ten, twenty or thirty years from now, I won't remember the awards we won. What I will cherish most are the friendships I made as a varsity athlete and the experiences I went through on and off the field.
“Being an athlete has taught me the importance of being a team player and striving for the greater good and not for my own benefit. … I've realized that helping others and working in a team environment are what I love to do and that is why being a student-athlete at the University of Chicago has been a true blessing,” Bilbao says.
The beginning of the fall season is a unique time for UChicago teams. Unlike the vast majority of their opponent schools, the Maroons play an entire month of competitions in September before classes commence. Many fall athletes, like UChicago senior women’s soccer player Nicole Mullen, enjoy the chance to strengthen teammate bonds and immerse themselves in their sport.
“My athletic experience at UChicago has meant everything to me,” says Mullen. “Some of my best friends are athletes and pre-season is definitely my favorite time of the year. It is so fun to be on campus just playing the sport you love and hanging out with your best friends.”
Mullen is currently on the Hyde Park campus working as a Senior Interviewer in the Office of College Admissions. She is also volunteering at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in Chicago. Her ultimate dream is to become a marine biologist.
On the soccer pitch, Mullen was a Second Team All-UAA pick at defensive midfielder and helped lead her team to the NCAA Tournament Round of 16 last season. “My time at UChicago has helped me grow as a person and an athlete in many different ways,” Mullen says. “Being on a large team, I can now work with all different types of people, and even more importantly, I have learned how to be a leader even among my peers. I have learned things about myself through the wins and the losses that will forever impact who I am and will become.”
Much of the team bonding for collegiate athletes takes place on lengthy road trips during the course of the season. Spring break trips across the country and deep runs in the postseason help galvanize the squad, which the UChicago men’s tennis team experienced in 2015. The Maroons spent their spring break playing matches in California and made a deep run in the NCAA Championships. UChicago eventually took fourth place as a team at nationals – its highest placing in program history.
Senior men’s tennis player Bobby Adusumilli speaks highly of his teammates and the bond that they share. Adusumilli is working this summer for Dimensional Fund Advisors in Austin, Texas and will seek to enter the investment management field.
“The most important part of my athletic experience has been the connections that I have made with my teammates,” says Adusumilli. “I know that I can call them or visit them in their hometowns at any time, and that we will have so much fun together. For example, I visited one of my old teammates in Budapest when I studied abroad this past fall, and it was by far the most fun I had during my study abroad experience. These relationships will undoubtedly last throughout my entire life, and I will continue to learn so much from them.”
OOC/WAA Undergrads: Summer Plans
- Intern at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, working on the Public Health Grand Rounds
- Analyst intern on American International Group’s (AIG) data science team
- Financial Analyst intern at Frontier Airlines
- Trader Intern with Gelber Group
- Operations intern at Belvedere Trading
- Intern at Bank of America
- Intern at Dockers
- Intern with DBRS
- Intern at a consulting firm
- Data scientist at Uptake Technologies
- Portfolio Management team at Dimensional Fund Advisors
- Work at a commercial real estate firm
- Coach a national junior tennis team and work at Berkshire Hathaway
- Conduct research in a theoretical neuroscience lab at UChicago, start to write honors thesis and apply to MD/PhD programs
- Work as a Senior Interviewer in the UChicago Admissions office and volunteering at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
- Conduct research for a UChicago professor on violent conflicts, writing a B.A. and teaching English to Southeast Asian refugees
- Assist with policy research at the UChicago Crime Lab
- Work as a Potter Fellow doing clinical research at the University of Chicago hospital
- Summer course in biochemistry at UChicago and community service
- Summer course in organic chemistry at UChicago
- Work on honors biology thesis project
For the recent graduates, the four-year run as a collegiate athlete is now in the rearview. New challenges await them in the work force or graduate school. UChicago’s rigorous academic environment laid the groundwork. Now the focus shifts to applying what they learned.
Hope Bretscher’s work in the classroom will continue to the next level. In late 2014, she received the prestigious Marshall Scholarship. Her achievements as a physics major were rewarded with the opportunity to attend graduate school at several world-renown universities in the United Kingdom. Bretscher will begin her masters program in science, technology and society at the University of Edinburgh in the fall. The following year, she will pursue a masters degree in physics at the University of Cambridge, focusing on solid-state research for sustainable energy applications.
Bretscher ran for the cross country and track & field programs at UChicago. The athletic challenge allowed her to find a mental and physical equilibrium within the chaos of college life.
“Athletics at UChicago provided me with a family and a way to stay sane amidst the stress of college,” Bretscher says. “Having something so different to focus on helped provide balance and a way to feel confident and improve at something. I think it helped me develop as a person and develop time management skills. I also didn't run competitively before college, and so it was great to be welcomed onto a team when I was a clear newbie. This has led me to try to always be welcoming and supportive, especially to people who aren't the star athlete but who work hard and just need encouragement.”
The 2014 season was a landmark campaign for the Maroon football team. UChicago’s 8-1 record was its best mark since 1913. The defensive unit ranked as one of the best in NCAA Division III, and Scott Mainquist was at the center of it. The defensive tackle was an All-American and UAA Defensive MVP in his final collegiate season as the Maroons captured the UAA conference title.
Mainquist is now focusing on law school applications. He is working at a firm back in his hometown of San Diego, Calif. and plans to attend law school in the fall of 2016. Football was a welcome release for Mainquist, and he gained fulfillment from the experience. The cleats and pads are packed away, but the memories remain.
“My athletic experience was a huge outlet for me to just forget about school or any problems going on in my life and focus on doing something I loved with people I loved,” says Mainquist. “I am so thankful that college football at the U of C never felt like a job or something I had to do, but was always something I wanted to do. Now that I'm done playing, it’s great to look back on it and say that I miss playing football because I had such a great experience ... The support from coaches and the people I played with made my experience with college athletics as fun as I could have imagined.”
Brandon Bolock lined up on the same defensive front as Mainquist for four seasons. Bolock was a disruptive force from his defensive end position and saved his best year for last. He led the Maroon football team in sacks, tackles for loss, forced fumbles and blocked kicks in 2014.
Bolock is now onto the next chapter of his life, working with Morgan Stanley in their Wealth Management division. Out of the many skills that he learned at UChicago, he singled out adaptability as one of the most important.
“UChicago has provided me with the ability to adapt and engage in any situation I am presented with,” Bolock says. “This also includes developing relationships with people who have a unique skill set that is different than mine. At UChicago, I have met fellow classmates that are completely different than me; however, the sense of respect and understanding I gain from them has allowed me to develop new relationships where in the past I might not have. This also includes the exposure to the core curriculum – where we all might not have the drive or intellect in a certain subject, we all learn to engage and appreciate the new knowledge in front of us.”
For the past four years, Mallory Morse concentrated on one job: keep the ball out of the goal. The UChicago women’s soccer goalkeeper excelled at that duty in her senior season, posting career best marks in wins (8), goals against average (0.56) and save percentage (.885). She teamed up with Jacinda Reid to shut out 12 opponents in 2014 and reach the NCAA Tournament Round of 16.
Now Morse has turned her attention to dental school at Columbia University. Her career goal is to become an oral surgeon or a periodontist. Over her collegiate career, Morse learned just as much from the losses as she did from the wins – namely, that adversity breeds perseverance.
“Professionally, my experience as a UChicago athlete will be invaluable,” says Morse. “Being a member of the soccer team has taught me how to work with a diverse group of people, how to manage my time wisely to balance rigorous academics and lengthy practices, and it has taught me to deal with adversity. You don't win every game and you don't perform well in every chance you are given, and soccer has taught me how to deal with failure and come out a better person at the end of it. All of these will be extremely important lessons moving forward into my professional career.”
OOC/WAA Graduates: Work and Future Plans
- Enroll in master’s program in science, technology and society at the University of Edinburgh, followed by a master’s program in physics at the University of Cambridge
- Attend dental school at Columbia University
- Attend graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis, pursuing a PhD in chemistry
- Attend graduate school at Boston University
- Apply to law schools while working for a local law firm
- Apply to graduate school for computational chemistry
- Enroll at a two-year bible school, followed by graduate school
- Investment banking at Credit Suisse
- Fixed-Income Analyst at NISA Investment Advisors
- Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley
- Consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers
- Equity Capital Markets at Credit Agricole
- Asset management analyst at J.P. Morgan
- Work for Deutsche Bank
- Work for ORC International
- Work for Ernst & Young
- Analyst at The PrivateBank
- Finance at HSBC
- Paralegal at the firm of Fitch, Even, Tabin & Flannery
- Research Analyst for MaPS (Marketing and Planning Systems)
- Work for LinkedIn in their Business Leadership Program
- D.C. Teaching Fellows in Washington, D.C.
- Management consultant for Gap International
- Work for Epic Systems