Vixen Hitter Leads by Example
Cassidy Jones ’11 draws a lot of inspiration from her parents and older sister.
“I have always been taught and shown how hard work is the only thing that will get you somewhere and in the end it will pay off,” she says.
Cassidy lives by those values, working since she was 16 to pay her way through college — and facing loans when she graduates. Wanting to stay close to home, the Rustburg, Va., native found what she was looking for at Sweet Briar: A small school where she could pursue interests in “designing and building things” and play volleyball.
While working toward her Bachelor of Science in engineering, Cassidy has been a leader on the Vixen volleyball team for four years playing middle and outside hitter. On the court she is consistently among the top performers on both offense and defense. Competing in the tough Division III Old Dominion Athletic Conference, Cassidy was an honorable mention for the first and second All-ODAC teams in 2008.
Sports have always been a part of Cassidy’s life and she feels it has helped shape who she is. She began playing volleyball at age 11. Her coaches have taught her many life lessons, especially accountability, she says. Another is “trying to find the positives out of negatives,” otherwise known as “no pain, no gain.”
“Being places on time, putting motivation and hard work into everything to help influence those with less experience, being someone people can rely on to always give one hundred and ten percent and get the job done when it needs to be; being a leader on the court and off and having others look up to you really makes you evaluate yourself and focus on being a better person for you and them,” she says.
Cassidy ran track at Rustburg High School and has been an assistant coach for the high jumpers since graduating. Now she enjoys being the one helping the younger girls make positive choices and strive to be their best.
“What they don’t know is they are helping me too, because I have to be accountable to them so they have something to look up to.”
From Sideline to Field
Samantha Britell ’11 didn't play soccer at all her junior year at Sweet Briar. She was under doctors’ orders to rest until she could have surgery to repair problems in both hips. The pain had begun in high school and progressed until it threatened permanent injury.
She hated not playing and spent the season on the bench filling with angry resentment when a teammate fussed about playing in the rain or that a blister hindered her play. One day the frustration brought her to tears.
“I was being completely selfish and unhelpful to the team, and looking back at that, I’m ashamed of myself,” Sam says. So she made a choice. “If I couldn’t play, then I could at least aid those who could.”
The next day she threw herself into her duties as team manager, filling water bottles, taking stats, supporting players and staying near the coach to learn from his direction.
During that time, she says, “I was constantly reminded that soccer is not just a game that you play, but a position that you live; you constantly switch between defending yourself from things that will take away from you mentally and moving forward to a goal.”
Her goal was to play again and on Aug. 19, 2010, Sam put on her “shinnies” and “boots” for the first time since midway through her sophomore season. “I’ve hit some bumps in the road this season due to the healing process, but I know that I can push my way through it, and that it’s all about being in the right defensive position,” she says.
Coach Kevin Fabulich saw the growth in Sam, an outside right back defender from Shady Side, Md. And she’s helped him position the team for the future. “She is much more team focused, on and off the field,” he says. “Last year she acted as my recruiting assistant and was instrumental in bringing in the biggest and best recruiting class SBC soccer has had.”
While sidelined from the sport she’s loved since third grade, life went on for Sam, who won this year’s Rebecca Tomlinson Lindblom Award for excellence in philosophy and religion. She is double majoring in both disciplines. Since she was a little girl she’s asked questions about faith, free will versus determinism, and “why people bicker over religions when they have the same idea about God.”
She is thinking about pursuing a doctorate in religion with a focus on Christianity and interfaith dialogue. She wants to have that conversation “whether or not everyone else wants to,” she says.
Busy Schedule, Diverse Interests
Alex St. Pierre picked up a hockey stick for the first time in high school because her mother made her choose a team sport. until then, all she wanted to do was ride horses.
Now the junior classical languages major from South Hamilton, Mass., considers it one of her mother’s best parenting decisions. Sports, she says, have given her confidence and skill in competition and the ability to handle herself with grace in both victory and defeat.
At Sweet Briar Alex is a midfielder on the Vixens field hockey team. She has been named to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference All- Academic team the past two years. She also is an Honors Scholar and this year’s recipient of the Betty Bean Black and J.A. Moore scholarships.
She is combining her major with minors in music and biology. Each plays to her varied interests: The classics because she loves the ancient Greek and Roman cultures and grasps the intrinsic value of the major’s encompassing nature; music because she loves to sing and “wanted a better understanding of music on the whole — both its theory and practice”; and biology because she’s also completing pre-vet requirements.
Rather than competing against one another, she finds the pace and variety of her commitments keep her focused, especially during hockey season. “I often find that I have more free time in season because it dictates that the schedule of my day be carefully planned,” she says.
“Another advantage to having multiple interests is that I can never claim boredom. When I get tired of reading about the rise of the Roman Empire, I go and hang out with my horse. When I’m sick of smelling like a barn, I dress up and sing opera in the chapel and when I’m ready to compete again I head out to the field.”
That doesn’t mean Alex doesn’t sometimes think about homing in on one thing. Before entering vet school, she’s considering dedicating a year with her horse, Aidan, on the three-day eventing training circuit.
“I have never had the opportunity given my other commitments,” she says. “It would be a fantastic opportunity to see how far I could go and how well we can perform when I work single-mindedly towards one goal — a very unusual circumstance for a Sweet Briar woman!”