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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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USciences athletes settle into life at St. Joe’s

Charlotte Kordonowy returns the ball. PHOTO: JAKOB KALTEIS

The end of University of the Sciences athletics was the beginning of new opportunities for its athletes.

The 2021-22 academic year was the final season of athletic competition for the USciences Devils. USciences offered 12 varsity sports, six for men, and six for women. The 12 rosters of these teams consisted of numerous student athletes who suddenly had a decision to make in regards to the future of their athletic career and not a lot of time to make it.

Several former USciences athletes are now at St. Joe’s, however, just three of them will continue their athletic careers as Hawks. For Charlotte Kordonowy, a sophomore on the women’s tennis team, transferring was out of the question, so she set her sights on making the team shortly after she found out about the merger.

Kordonowy said she was in contact with the coaching staff as early as last fall in order to make sure they knew she was interested.

“I am very against transferring.” Kordonowy said. “I guess I’m just going to have to hope that I make the team.”

Kordonowy ended up making the team, along with fellow USciences tennis player, junior Kirsten Wijnsema. According to Kordonowy, her back was against the wall once she found out about the merger, and it was a hard pill to swallow.

“I was very taken aback,” Kordonowy said. “There were a few tears because I thought I was going to have one year and then it was going to be over.”

Kordonowy, along with Wijnsema, was fortunate enough to be able to continue her athletic career on Hawk Hill.

The other varsity athletes at USciences were not so lucky. Lucas Burkhardt ’23, a cross country runner for the Devils, said it was a major surprise to him and his teammates that left them wondering what was coming next.

“We really didn’t know what that meant, or how that transition was gonna go for us,” Burkhardt said. “We were kind of just on the edge of our seats, waiting to see what happened with the merger.”

Burkhardt, however, found a unique way to handle his uncertain situation. According to Burkhardt, he made an early transition from an athlete to a graduate assistant.

“I just felt like my talents and my time could have been better spent being a graduate assistant,” Burkhardt said. “[It could be used for] helping out the other athletes to give them the best chance that they could to compete at the Division I, St. Joe’s level.”

According to Kayla Nueva ’23, a former member of the track team at USciences, the athletic department did not give the athletes a whole lot of prior notice about their situation.

“Everyone was kind of blindsided on the athletics front,” Nueva said. “We just found out new stuff as it came up.”

At first, the news was sad for Nueva. However, it opened up new opportunities for her. Nueva is a part of both the Student Society of Health System Pharmacists club and the American Pharmacists Association club on the UCity campus. According to Nueva, the whole situation is bittersweet.

“I was kind of bummed out, obviously, that we wouldn’t have sports,” Nueva said. “But given the increasing difficulty of my courses, it was kind of a relief in a way that I could still maintain my scholarship, and I wouldn’t have to run or try out for the Division I team.”

Burkhardt said he is looking forward to supporting new sports that he was not able to while at USciences.

“I am a big soccer fan.” Burkhardt said. “We did not have soccer [at USciences], so I am excited to go over to the main campus and see the men’s and women’s teams play, because that is something that I’ve always wanted to do in college”

Kordonowy said she was not happy about the news of the merger, but things have worked out for her a year later.

“I am very happy with the merger.” Kordonowy said. “I do not think it could have gone any better.”

According to Burkhardt, the merger was a blessing in disguise, and he would not have gotten the chance to help younger athletes if it did not happen.

“Initially, it was definitely a bummer.” Burkhardt said. “But looking back on it now, I think it worked out in my favor.”

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