NCAA Student-Athletes

First-hand experiences from student-athletes who competed in the NCAA

 

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Cara Cornacchia

Hometown: Pickering, ON

Schools Attended: St. Mary CSS, University of Dayton (DI)

Sport(s) Competed In: Soccer

Current Profession: Healthy Lifestyle and Fitness Coach

 
The belief you have in your players and the conversations you have with them can either make or break them.
— Cara Cornacchia
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Lisa Kingsmore

 

Hometown: Brampton, ON

Schools Attended: Mayfield Secondary School, Winthrop University (DI)

Sport(s) Competed In: Softball

Current Profession: Senior Analyst, Ministry of the Environment & Climate Change, Government of Ontario

Not only do you have to be physically prepared, you also need to be mentally strong both on and off the field.
— Lisa Kingsmore
 
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Kris Joseph

 

Hometown: Montreal, QC

Schools Attended: Archbishop Carroll High School, Syracuse University (DI)

Sport(s) Competed In: Basketball

Current Profession: Professional athlete

 
Nobody likes a leader who does not practice what they preach.
— Kris Joseph
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Onika Angus

 

Hometown: Toronto, ON

Schools Attended: Loretto Abbey (Toronto), Alcorn State University (DI)

Sport(s) Competed In: Volleyball

Current Profession: Lawyer

Championships require you to give your best, every single day.
— Onika Angus
 

Cara Cornacchia

What was a challenge that you encountered in your first year that set you up for later success? Do you have a favourite challenge that you overcame?

Two weeks before my first year I tore my ACL. I had trained hard all summer and then suddenly it just happened. What seemed like a setback at the time, actually turned into a victory because I was given an additional year to play (5 years as opposed to 4). 

During that 5th year, I was one of the team captains. I was able to express my leadership qualities and play the best year of my college career. 

Who is the coach that you quote the most?

I had one coach that I will never forget. I was 16 and played for Team Ontario at the time. He encouraged me and believed in me unlike any other coach I had. He poured into me and as a result my confidence rose and I performed every game at my best. That’s the kind of stuff that sticks. The belief you have in your players and the conversations you have with them can either make or break them.

How many schools did you visit and how did you know the school you chose was the right fit? 

I had only visited 2! I knew right away that Dayton was the right fit for me. I will never forget walking the campus and having the overwhelming sense that “this was it.” I not only loved the facilities, the campus vibe and ambiance, but I really liked the teammates and coaches. You can’t deny the feeling of something being right. It was an easy “Yes” because I sincerely just knew this was going to be the place for me. 

What did participating in collegiate athletics make you better at? What habits have stuck with you?

Having resilience. Grit. Discipline and focus. Passion. The list goes on. All of these habits I formed at school and playing at a high level, have helped shape me. They come out in my daily life. The ability I have to overcome adversity and to press on certainly comes from many of these habits I formed. 

 

 

 

 
 

Lisa Kingsmore

If you could give one piece of advice to a grade 10 or 11 student looking to compete in the NCAA what would it be? Counter to that, what advice should they ignore?

Time to get your planning on! This is when you should have your research plan underway and think critically if competing in the NCAA is something you want.

Don’t let the personal experiences of other people influence your thoughts. While it is helpful to seek advice and lessons learned from trusted mentors (e.g., coaches, trainers) and NCAA athletes, everyone has their own unique experiences. Don’t let anyone skew your perspective, especially in this early planning stage.

Who is the coach that you quote the most?

Al Spohn.

What’s one mistake you made during the recruitment process?

It felt strange and corny having to “sell” myself through recruitment videos and communications to NCAA coaches. I should have put more time and effort in the recruitment process.

How many schools did you visit and how did you know the school you chose was the right fit?

I visited about 5 or 6 schools. After comparing all the schools, I realized that Winthrop checked off most of the criteria I was looking for from both an athletic and academic perspective.

What surprised you when you got to school?

I was surprised with how mentally demanding it was to be a student athlete. Not only do you have to be physically prepared, you also need to be mentally strong both on and off the field.

What approaches helped you stay on top of athletics and academics with a demanding competition schedule?

Time management and staying organized are key. I found it helpful to develop a detailed schedule for each semester and to stick to it.

 

 

 

 
 

Kris Joseph

Did you feel prepared as both a student and an athlete when you got to school in the US?

Personally, I felt prepared because I had my older brother, Maurice, to help guide me through my process a bit. Completing high school in the states also helped prepare me a little more mentally and physically for what I would be going through on and off the court.

Who is the coach that you quote the most?

“Consistency over time equals credibility.” Coach Hopkins at Syracuse would say that all the time. It stuck because that quote is true when applied to everything. In my junior and senior years at school I was team captain. I was more of a lead by example kind of guy, and my work ethic and grind demonstrated to the younger guys on the team what it takes to win and compete at this level. Nobody likes a leader who does not practice what they preach.

What’s one mistake you made during the recruitment process?

I think my biggest mistake was not taking all my visits and seeing what all schools had to offer. Syracuse being my dream school at the time, it made sense to just commit after the offer came in. But looking back, I should have gone to more visits, spoken to more coaches and spent more time seeing what else was out there. Luckily for me, it all worked out.

Did you think about going pro? Why did or didn’t you?

Becoming a pro baller was the goal for me before putting on a college jersey. I live by a saying “Grind Now Shine Later”. All the early morning individuals, practices, cardio sessions. They all had to pay off in the end. Doing what you dreamt of becoming since a little kid is amazing. Working your dream job, literally.

What did participating in collegiate athletics make you better at? What habits have stuck with you?

I'm better with people. Being on a team that somewhat changes every year you learn how to deal with several different personalities. You meet people during team events and it made me become a much more sociable person.

If there were times that you felt overwhelmed or homesick, what did you do?

I would just speak to my family and friends. Luckily for me, Syracuse is only 3.5hrs away from Montreal. I didn't go home much, but my family and friends visited and came to games often.

 

 

 

 
 

Onika Angus

Did you feel prepared as both a student and an athlete when you got to school in the US?

No. There was a lot of "learning on the fly" when I first went to the United States. I did not have a lot of information on the SAT, ACT or other tests. One thing that can really make or break your experience is your coach and your program. My program was in flux, including some coaching changes, during my college career. This instability definitely impacted my experience, which was something that I hadn't even considered looking into.

What was a challenge that you encountered in your first year that set you up for later success? Do you have a favourite challenge that you overcame?

When I first entered college, some of my promised scholarship money and books were delayed. This challenge forced me to work harder and be very careful with my funds. It gave me an early understanding that being on scholarship is not easy and that you needed to be as self-sufficient as possible and have some backup funding in place just in case. As a result, I was able to get some work as a tutor on campus, which was very helpful to have on my resume when applying to professional school. I also learned to talk with my professor about the issue and work it through them, which was an invaluable skill.

Who is the coach that you quote the most (doesn’t have to be a coach that you played for)? What is an example of something they said that has stuck with you?: 

I've always been a fan of the Notre Dame sign, "Play like a Champion Today". Championships require you to give your best, every single day.

What’s one mistake you made during the recruitment process?

I definitely didn't do enough research and relied too heavily on what I was told by others. Coaches don't always have the most current and up to date information, especially in Canada where they are somewhat outside of the NCAA process. It's up to you to supplement and verify the information you receive to the best of your ability. Moreover, it's up to you as the student, or the family of the student, to ensure you understand all the potential costs and expenses associated with the NCAA recruitment and athletic career.

What did participating in collegiate athletics make you better at? What habits have stuck with you?

While it's still not my forte, participating in college athletics improved my time management skills; however, I think the most important skill that stuck with me was resiliency. Being a college athlete isn't easy. It tests you both mentally and physically and you have to learn to pick yourself up a lot. For me, like for many others, it was the first time that I was dealing with things not being as easy or coming as naturally as they had before. The growth and development that occur when facing really difficult challenges are invaluable.

What approaches helped you stay on top of athletics and academics with a demanding competition schedule? 

Forcing myself to stick with a study schedule was an important way to stay on top of academics with the demanding schedule. Also, recognizing the value of a good GPA to your athletic career is a good way to motivate yourself.