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.
Cianna Brown, a junior from Arlington, Texas, is a track and field runner. She is also a representative of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) for her team.
“Basically, we are just the spokesperson for our team, so if they need help with anything, like school wise, we go talk to Student Development for them, or like financial aid or if they just need help in general with anything,” said Brown.
Brown hasn’t always been a leader on the team. She said she’s worked hard to earn her spot.
“Freshman year, I was one of the underdogs I guess you could say,” said Brown. ”But then sophomore year I became one of the team leaders.”
According to Brown, making her way up to being in a leadership position was not easy.
“It was hard because I came from Texas,” said Brown. “You know, it’s cold all the time [in Michigan], and I’m used to running in warm weather, where they are used to running in colder weather. I’m used to running outdoors, and they’re used to running indoors, so I had a lot of learning to do.”
Because of the drastic change Brown endured moving to a different state, she has experienced physical changes as she adapted from track in Texas to track in Michigan.
“It was so hard. It was like a whole new body,” said Brown. “I had to figure everything out all over again. It just felt like I didn’t know how to run track.”
Not only was the weather a drastic change to Brown but so were the ways of Albion College’s campus.
“It was hard a lot because the culture is definitely different. I had a hard time socially because down here [in Texas], we are more aggressive, more straight forward, whereas up there you have to beat around the bush a little bit,” said Brown. “It was a lot of getting used to new things and new culture and how things work up north.”
Being a student-athlete isn’t easy. Brown said she’s been a student-athlete all her life, but once she got to college, it became even harder for her.
“I have to juggle time management and sports, whereas in high school, it all got laid out for you. But in college, I have to figure out what times I’m going to practice and what times I’m going to still do my homework,” said Brown.
As a student of color, Brown has faced discrimination that are often times unbeknownst to others.
“Being a student of color on campus, just in general, I feel like sometimes we aren’t heard. We have needs too,” said Brown. “It’s a lot of stereotypes going in as a Black athlete. We get looked at differently. I’ve actually heard people [say] the only reason why Black people attend Albion is because we play sports and that’s the only reason why we get in.”
Despite the challenges, Brown continues to succeed in track and field.
“Freshman year and sophomore year, I metaled in all my events. I actually won triple jump my freshman year. It was my first year triple jumping, and I won at outdoor conference,” said Brown.
She has contributed in creating titles for the Albion College track and field team that will go down in history.
“I was on the four-by-one national team that we took to nationals, and we broke the school record,” said Brown.