Senior Sydney Cleveland recently wrapped up her final season on the lady Bobcat’s basketball team. Although Cleveland’s undergrad career comes to a close in May, she is staying for two more years to pursue her Master’s degree and in Arts and Teaching, while earning the opportunity to help Coach Mo Smith as a graduate assistant.
“There has never been a time where I felt I didn’t have the support I needed at GC. This school and the culture that it has built, whether it’s in athletics or on campus in the classroom, you are surrounded by people that really want you to succeed, and I am blessed to have had a great experience,” the 5-10 forward Cleveland said.
One game of the season that Cleveland will never forget was the Bobcat’s final matchup against North Georgia on March 6th. Although the game ended in a loss, the intense competition and emotions were at an all time high.
“Tears were streaming in the locker room from the players, and Coach Mo, as the team realized that everyone had given 100% in this season from the beginning to the end. It was very sentimental,” Cleveland shared in an emotional testament.
She described how her teammates, Coach Mo, and her Mathematics professors have made it easy to call GC home. “It [GC] is definitely going to have a piece of my heart for the rest of my life.”
Another student athlete, Isaac Thomas chose to come to GC because of the basketball coaches, players, and campus life.
“As an athlete, I have improved my game, put in the time, gotten stronger and more mature and as a person I have grown learning to live on my own and what not.”Beating UNC Pembroke at home was a highlight of the 2018-19 season that Thomas will never forget.
“They were ranked 22nd in the nation at the time, it was great, I got to dunk it a few times.”
He also stated that every homecoming game was meaningful with memories that will stick with him forever.
“My freshman year [2015-16] we won and beat Columbus State with ESPN 3 here with all the seniors that taught me a lot about the game.”
Thomas broke both the Peachbelt Conference career rebounding record, and the Georgia College career rebounding record in one night in his final season.
For now, Thomas is working with an agent in the hopes of getting an invitation to play professional basketball overseas. If not, Thomas is signed up for graduate school at GC to get his CPA in accounting.
Athlete Taylor Svehla chose to come to GC for the ideal atmosphere, volleyball coaches and players, and beautiful campus.
Her attacking, blocking, and serving capabilities, equally matched the grit she put into her academic efforts as a Mathematics Education major.
“One of biggest things, as far as wins go, was beating USC Aiken in the NCAA tournament last year [2017-18]. We weren’t expected to go that far, this was the first time that our team had been to the NCAA tournament, let alone to the second round,” the 6-1 middle blocker said.
“It was amazing to see how our team could come together and push past our goals,” she added.
Svehla harped on the relationships formed over the past four years and the memories made.
“Everything on the court will fade. I won’t remember the numbers, I won’t remember the wins and losses, but I will remember the people.”
One of the main things GC and the athletic department has taught Svehla is how to unapologetically be herself, on and off the court.
Senior Psychology major, Austin Campbell chose GC after he evaluated the established cross-country program, and small class sizes in comparison to larger universities.
“The structure and organization of the XC team and athletic program helped me on and off the trail, and also to be just as dedicated in the classroom,” Campbell said.
An 8k and 10k runner, Campbell emphasized how his last 3 races of the 2018 season were surreal because he knew the end was coming. In the past season, Campbell ranked within the top 3 or 4 in virtually every race, with his practice paying off.
“I ended up PR’ing in my last four races, so that was big and ended the season on a great note.”
These personal records followed a top-10 finish [4th place] in 2016 and two top 20 performances in 2017.
Campbell is looking forward to getting married in June to his fiancée whom he met during his freshman year on the team.
After getting back from the honeymoon, Campbell will start grad school at GC in special education.
As one can see, these and many other Georgia College scholar athletes have benefited from the quality of their athletic and academic experiences at our university.
Infographic by Alex Jones | Sports Editor