It is only natural to want to stay in your comfort zone.
On a leadership retreat to the glorious mountains of Colorado over the summer, eight UTA student-athletes were launched well outside of the known commodity of their comfort, or green, zone.
Under the direction of UTA student-athlete development specialist Tim Kennedy, eight of UTA's best and brightest embarked on a trip to test their limits.
"This was a valuable life-skills experience for some of our student athletes," Kennedy said. "During the trip, I got to witness our student-athletes get taken out of their green zone and watch them make the needed adjustments and continue to press through their challenges."
Logan Austin (baseball), Tamerah Gorham (track), Beau Eggers (track), Cy'Andria Newton (softball), Chineme Obikudu (track), Samantha Hughes (track), Tori Shelton (track) and Emoni Taylor (track) joined Kennedy on a venture to Noah's Ark, planted in picturesque Browns Canyon just outside of Denver.
The Maverick student-athletes turned off their electronics, broke from 21st century life, and spent seven days surrounded by the gorgeous sights of Colorado.
"We all had to push ourselves to another level," Austin said. "It was a lot of fun encouraging others and getting out of our comfort zone."
After arriving from Arlington, the UTA student-athletes immediately put their new found relationships to the test with a white water rafting trip. After the excitement of the rafting journey, the Mavs embarked on a four-day hike to scale the mountaintops, a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
"It was also great to see them working together during the whitewater rafting trip and backpacking trip," Kennedy said. "They really got a chance to work on the team-building skills by encouraging each other during the difficult times. It was also great seeing them build meaningful relationships and the bond that they got to experience during their time together. Some of them when from not knowing each other's names to becoming good friends."
The hike presented particular challenges to UTA's student-athletes. While climbing four miles a day with a hefty backpack, camping in the mountains and dealing with the unfamiliar trial of high altitudes, the team was tested in a unique way.
"I grew up living in a house full of all girls, so going out consisted of city activities for us," Shelton said. "We not only went camping, but hiked up an entire mountain with a pack half my size. It was awesome. The people that we were with was amazing and I never thought I could have done that without them."
A former collegiate track star, Kennedy saw particular benefit in trials presented throughout the trip.
"Seeing our student-athletes deal with hiking up a mountain in high altitude, getting rained on and snowed on during the hike, having to deal with cold weather while sleeping in tents, and unplugging from electronics was encouraging to watch," Kennedy said. "During those difficult times on the trip, they had opportunities to complain or quit but they just kept pushing on."
At the conclusion of each day, huddled around a fire and a makeshift camp site, UTA's group would have breakout sessions.
"During the sessions, student-athletes would share their experiences of the day, how they were taken out of their green zone, how they reacted being outside their green zone and how they can apply that experience to life after sports and athletics," Kennedy detailed. "It was amazing to hear what they shared during the sessions and how they were being challenged during the trip. By the end, each student-athlete was taken out of his green zone several times and sometimes they handled it well and other times they didn't. At the end of the trip, students shared the impact that the trip had on them and how much they grew from the experience."
The athletes benefited from the unique challenges, a necessity for teamwork and unfamiliar environments presented throughout the trip.
"This trip showed me that there are better ways to handle adversities that you go through in your life," Shelton said. "At the end of the day you need to sit down and evaluate what you did and how you handled it and the possibilities of making it better the next time. Throughout college it is important to do that too and I am just thankful that Tim took us on this trip so we could discover things about ourselves."
Fostering relationships was a tremendous by-product of the leadership retreat and those bonds are sure to live on well after their athletic careers conclude.
"It is moments like these," Austin said. "You won't look back at your ERA or your batting average, you are going to look back and remember the relationships you made and the people around you. That is what I am going to remember the most. I went in not knowing anybody and I made some friends that will be lifelong. That is cool. Life isn't always about wins and losses, it is about the people around you. Those are the times that you remember, not the wins and losses."
Former UTA men's basketball standout Karol Gruszecki has been selected as one of 17 players invited to participate as members of the Polish National Team in preparation for the 2017 European Championships this summer.
The team will spend two weeks in Walbrzych beginning on July 23 and will play a series of friendlies in Lithuania, Latvia, Germany and Poland. Eurobasket is scheduled for August 31 - Sept. 17 with games being played in Finland, Israel, Romania and Turkey. Poland is in Group A, along with Greece, France, Finland, Iceland and Slovenia.
Gruszecki played in the 2015 championships, in which Poland finished in 11th place. He also represented Poland at the U16, U18 and U20 FIBA European Championships. He averaged 6.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game in the three youth championship events.
Recently graduated UTA men's basketball standout Jalen Jones recently showcased his skills at the WSM Invitational, an event in Las Vegas earlier this week that provided an opportunity for selected players to compete on teams led by head coaches from Australia, Germany, Belgium, & Italy.
Jones played in all four games under coach Stefano Cioppi and averaged 11.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1 steal per game. He finished second on the team in scoring and shot .480 from the field and 38 percent from behind the 3-point arc.
Incoming UTA freshman golfer Ava Schwienteck turned in scores of 72-70 for a 2-under par 142 to claim medalist honors at the Flodder Financial Shootout at Meadowbrook Farms Golf Course in Katy, Texas. The tournament marked the final Legends Junior Tour event of her career.
The Magnolia, Texas native registered five birdies in yesterday's first round to overcome a double-bogey and three bogeys within a six hole span to score and even par 72. Her three birdies and an eagle on the par 5 No. 12 helped put her at 2-under for the day and handed her a 2-stroke lead over Christine Wang of Houston.
UTA student-athletes have developed a well-deserved reputation for actively serving the local community in a variety of positive ways. Today, women's basketball senior Rebekah VanDijk (right) and cross country runner Bailey Balmer assisted Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County by delivering meals to homebound residents of Arlington.
Zac Cook: Kansas Jayhawk League (Liberal BeeJays)
Christian Hollie: Coastal Plains League (Savannah Bananas)
Jakob Nunez: Coastal Plains League (Savannah Bananas)
Will Olson: Texas Collegiate League (Brazos Valley Bombers)
Dylan Schneider: Kansas Jayhawk League (Hays Larks)
Parker Schkade: Kansas Jayhawk League (Hays Larks)
Cody Wernli: Kansas Jayhawk League (Liberal BeeJays)
Jordon West: Alaska/Independent (Fairbanks Goldpanners)
Three members of the newly-formed UTA women's golf team are scheduled to compete, along with associate head coach Catherine Matranga.
Junior Rachel Phillips (Plano) will go off the 10th tee at 7:45 a.m. and is paired with Krista Manning (Fort Worth) and Mills Chenot (Waco). Freshman Kate Tran (Arlington) is paired with Maggie Beth Byers (San Antonio) and Jordy LaBarbera (Allen) and will start on the first tee at 7:54 a.m.
Coach Matranga will start on 10 at 12:51 p.m.with Hannah Arnold (Lufkin) and Heather Shake (Pearland), while freshman Allison Wade is scheduled for a 1:36 p.m. time off the first tee with Ana Ruiz (Norman, Okla.) and Madison Frerking (Spring).
Inclement weather prevented incoming UTA freshman golfer Andrew Lindberg and his father, Mark, from defending their Texas Father-Son championship Sunday at Moody Gardens Golf Course in Galveston. The championship flight was cut from its original 54 holes to 36 when afternoon storms rolled into the area, handing Cameron and Dean Brown a 2-stroke victory.
At last year's Texas Father-Son, Andrew and Mark Lindberg outlasted the Browns in a playoff to claim the state title. This year, the Browns carded identical scores of 65 in the tournament's first two rounds for a 14-under par 130. The Lindbergs turned in rounds of 64-68 for a 12-over par 132 to tie for runner-up honors with Matthew and Scott Van Zandt.
Gruszecki spent the last two seasons with 2017 Polish League champions Stelmet BC Zielona Gora. Last year he averaged 6.7 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game He also played in the FIBA Europe Cup, averaging 12 points per game, and the Basketball Champions League.
A member of the Polish National Team, he represented his native country at the 2015 European Championships and previously spent time with professional teams in Belgium and Poland.
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