Changing the World Through Athletics

Changing the World Through Athletics

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This year, the school’s liturgical theme song is “Change the World” by Derek Minor. Each month, we gather as a community to unpack lyrics from this song and reflect on how we can help others. This is the second reflection in a four-part series which explores how Monarchs change the world through their involvement in these programs: Athletics, Campus Ministry, Performing Arts, and Student Activities. This week, we’re focusing on how senior Svea Neunfinger, a captain for the women’s soccer team, changes the world when she puts the focus on others, instead of herself. 

By Svea Neunfinger ’20 

I stood in the gym looking up into the rafters while half of the student body chanted “Aaron Gordon” around me. I looked over to where Aaron, the 6 foot 9 inch tall NBA player, stood smiling and waving at the crowd. In that moment, I wondered how Mitty, one of many private schools in the area, has become home to so many successful athletes and teams. As I took in my surroundings, the answer became clear: Archbishop Mitty continues to create one of the strongest cultures of athletic sportsmanship of any school in the Bay Area. 

There are many school mantras that remind athletes, like myself, of the core attributes we should be representing. These mantras help us to change the world because they encourage us to put others ahead of ourselves. In the women’s soccer program, we take the approach of  “we before me.” This foundational mantra of the women’s soccer program started as a hashtag our head coach, JT Hanley, used on Twitter to remind us to put our “sisters” ahead of ourselves. This mantra was especially important to me in my first year on the varsity team because, as a sophomore, I rarely got any playing time. Coming from junior varsity, where I had played every game, I struggled to find motivation to practice hard and well. I questioned why I should practice hard if I wasn’t going to play. The “we before me” mantra reminded me that my practice effort would help the team by giving the starting players solid competition that would improve their game. Eventually, my efforts were noticed. When some starting seniors became injured, I was given opportunities to play in games. Now, as a senior captain, I recognize the importance of creating a selfless environment throughout the team, and I remind others, who don’t get as much playing time, to continue to be invested and to put the team ahead of their own goals. 

To me, Monarch athletes change the world when we put others ahead of ourselves. This selflessness is so important as we go out into the world. It lets us act from our hearts rather than the dangerous draw of our egos. I firmly believe that the many achievements of the athletic program are a direct reward of the culture that our athletic department has worked so hard to instill in every Monarch athlete, and these lessons are ones that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.