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. Due to COVID-19, recent decisions regarding athletics on the collegiate, conference, and national levels have changed the face of sports this fall at Albion College.
In light of that and 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.
Originally, Jon Cronick, a senior from Escanaba, Mich., was not planning on playing sports in college. He decided to come to Albion for the school itself. Currently is a psychology major, after graduation, he plans to go into counseling or to get his masters in sports psychology.
“I decided to go to Albion because it was small, and I liked how everyone was so nice and welcoming,” said Cronick.
Prior to Albion, Cronick was not an athlete. He learned his swim and dive skills after entering college.
“I was always down at the Dow, and then I became friends with the swimmers and divers as a freshman. One of my friends taught me how to dive,” said Cronick.
After that, he was asked to join the team.
Being a college student-athlete takes responsibility. Cronick said that balancing athletics and academics has helped him become more accountable in addition to improving his work ethic.
“My biggest takeaway from these past three years is how hard I was working and my improvements,” said Cronick. “Being on the swim team, I feel like I’m a part of a family.”
Despite all the positives that athletics can provide, sports can also lead to serious injuries. Cronick almost had a concussion after one of his dives, and he had to sit out of competition during his recovery.
“I felt very anxious to get back on the board when I got taken out,” said Cronick. “I know that my teammates put a lot of hard work in, and I do not want to let them down. So, I know that I needed to continually push my limits to get back.”
Because of COVID-19 precautions, practices have been different for all sports. For swim and dive, the number of people allowed in the pool at any given time is limited. Additionally, swimmers are not allowed to take showers in the locker rooms, although locker rooms are still allowed for storage use. When they are not in the pool, athletes are required to wear masks at all times. One coach is always on the deck overseeing precautions.
“The team is doing a great job trying to get in shape, and we are just taking one day at a time,” said Cronick. “This being my senior year is kind of upsetting, but I know we have no control. I really feel like we had a shot at winning. Overall, some of the best parts of my time at Albion, I would say, was hanging out with friends and being convinced to join the dive team.”
The team has created a system of pods where there are six to eight athletes in each group. This system was made to allow the team to practice regularly in small groups to avoid cross-contamination.
“We don’t really like them because we can’t see everyone, but with everything that is going on it’s understandable,” said Cronick.
Despite being upset about the current situation, the team is making the best of their situation. Cronick’s pod is making TikToks, going to the park, and doing other activities to get together.
With support from his team, Cronick’s confidence has built up over the years. Despite the things COVID-19 has changed, one thing it has not changed is how much Cronick cares for his teammates. Cronick said he strives to be the team listener, supporter, and the one who is always there.
“There is no change in the team’s environment. It is always great. The team is welcoming to incoming freshmen, and even with the coaches’ changes, they have remained a good, dynamic team,” said Cronick. “I love to see the team win, and I am enjoying every day. Go Brits.”