Over half of the Albion College student body participates in one of 23 varsity sports teams on campus. The college places an emphasis on competing at a high level in the NCAA Division III while also excelling each day in the classroom.
The vast number of student-athletes on campus have a multitude of backgrounds, including many unique players that often go unnoticed.
In order to truly appreciate all of the student-athletes who make up Albion athletics, The Pleiad’s “Beyond the Spotlight” series features a different athlete and the impact they have had on campus.
Featured in this week’s “Beyond the Spotlight” series is track and field athlete Jayden VanMaurick, a sophomore from Holland, MI. VanMaurick also competes on the Briton cross country team in the fall.
VanMaurick has other interests outside of running. He is a member of the Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program, Sigma Nu fraternity and is the vice president of Albion’s Astronomy Club.
In high school, VanMaurick only competed in cross country for three years. After an outstanding senior season, he had offers to run for multiple schools, including Albion.
Ultimately, he decided to become a Briton.
“It was [former] Coach Lawrence’s welcoming and encouraging attitude, along with my future teammates reflecting this same attitude that helped me feel that Albion was the place for me,” said VanMaurick.
As part of his final decision, VanMaurick emphasized the importance of balancing academics and athletics at Albion. Like many other Division III schools, Albion stresses the importance of academics before athletics.
“To go to a place where I can not only excel as an athlete but also a student was really important,” said VanMaurick.
On the track, VanMaurick is finding his stride. An unfortunate ankle injury during his freshman season gave him motivation to come back his sophomore year with a desire to improve.
“I wasn’t able to compete to the standards I wanted,” said VanMaurick. “It taught me how vulnerable athletes can be and how fortunate we should consider ourselves when we are healthy.”
VanMaurick is improving and it was shown last Saturday: he broke five minutes in the mile achieving a time of four minutes and 53 seconds at the Aquinas College Little Meet. One part of that improvement has been learning to run smarter, not harder.
“I run my races a lot more strategically in college. You really have to map out your races visually and mentally,” said VanMaurick.
As for the team, Vanmaurick says they are coming together this season.
“We intermingle a lot more than last year. The sprinters are hanging out with the distance crew. The distance crew is spending time with the throwers,” said VanMaurick. “The better you know your team, the better you can work together.”
VanMaurick’s experiences of being part of a team taught him many lessons on and off the track.
“My biggest takeaway from being a student athlete is to enjoy the opportunity to its fullest extent,” said VanMaurick. “The people come and go, but the experiences do not.”
Nearly halfway through college, VanMaurick still feels as though Albion is the right place for him, since the student athlete balance is so profound.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to compete for Albion,” said VanMaurick. “I am involved in so many extracurriculars outside of sports, allowing me to make the most of my time at Albion.”