Williston Scholars: Examining the Student-Athlete

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Prep schools often are known for their competitive athletic programs. At the Williston Northampton School, students have the opportunity to go beyond their own play in a course taught by History and Global Studies teacher Diane Williams. Sports Studies, one of this year’s Williston Scholars courses, encourages students to evaluate how gender, race, economics, and politics interact with the world of sports.

“Teaching this class has been a really amazing opportunity to expose student-athletes to a variety of topics related to sport, sport culture, and dominant ideologies in society,” said Diane.

Williston Scholars
With Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in such close proximity, Williston works to take advantage of the diversity and opportunities to be found on those campuses. Over two trimesters, with the help of five college and university professors and staff, Williston Scholars classes introduce students to research and writing more commonly found in higher education.

Diane’s Sports Studies class has been one of the most popular Williston Scholars classes offered since the program’s start in 2010. Pulling from history, sociology, psychology, anthropology, kinesiology, cultural studies, as well as many other fields, Diane creates a

class that, according to the syllabus, “wrestle[s] with the significance of sport through dialogue and discussion.”

“It is my hope that you will leave this class with a deeper appreciation for sport, but also a critical eye to evaluate sport as a social institution that both creates and recreates meaning in our society,” said Diane in the document.

Miranda Gohh ’13, a cross country runner and goalie for the varsity hockey team, said Sports Studies is her favorite class “because it shows all sides of the sports world, from race in sports to gender equality.”  The course will cover the relationship between economics and sports later this spring, a subject Miranda is looking forward to studying at Wesleyan University, which she’ll be attending in the fall.

Miranda became interested in the relationship between athletes and corporations by following surfing.  “She is a huge fan of surfing and surf culture,” said Diane.  “It’s something that she’s really into and finds opportunities to study and apply it to what she’s learning.”

“I think what I want to do in the future is to pursue sports marketing…what really interests me are the athlete endorsements and sponsorships,” said Miranda.

Miranda is so enthusiastic about surfing culture that she and a friend created a website, www.shakashow.com, which features surfers of all levels and promotes the sport.  Shakashow has interviewed Association of Surfing Professional-ranked athletes including Tyler Wright, (number 13); Lakey Peterson(number 7); and Shelby Detmers (number 99).

“[Sports Studies] is also cool because we have a lot of opportunities to reflect upon our own sports experiences,” said Miranda.

Miranda’s father grew up in Vancouver and is a lifelong Canucks fan and, over time, she inherited his zeal for the game and for the maroon and blue.  Miranda remembers that every Saturday the two would watch the game together.

Miranda didn’t start playing goalie until her first club season.  “There wasn’t a goalie so I just jumped in,” she said.  Now a seasoned goaltender, she explained that there are pros and cons to the oftentimes lonely position.  “I learned what it felt like to make a game-winning breakaway save, but I also learned what it felt like to let in a trickler from the

redline. Goalie is a very humbling position, and no matter how many shots you block, a puck is always bound to find its way in.”

Miranda categorized her hockey career at Williston as one of, “continual and nonstop growth.”  She’s learned everything from how to be an underdog to how to fight for your spot, what it’s like to pay for mistakes, and how to make history.

Academic Dean and girl’s cross-country coach Greg Tuleja says Miranda has a personality you always want to be around.  “It is difficult not to feel good and upbeat when she is around, and that quality has been a tremendous benefit for my cross-country team, which is set up so that the girls will run themselves into the ground in every practice and every race,” he said.

“Cross-country running is VERY demanding, and Miranda has been crucial in keeping a positive attitude with her teammates,” added Tuleja.

Calling Miranda a “competitor and team player” Christa Talbot, the girls varsity hockey coach said the senior, “brings a great attitude, strong work ethic, energy and focus to all that she does.”

Agreeing with Tuleja, Talbot added that Miranda, “has the ability to brighten a room and has made a positive impression on everyone that comes in contact with her.” 

Fall 2013: Wesleyan University
Miranda was accepted early to Wesleyan University.  “It’s definitely a big relief for both myself and my parents, just really cool that I know where I’m going…and it’s my top choice,” she said.

“It was a vibe-y thing,” she said of her first visit to the Middletown, Connecticut campus.  “When I first visited Williston I felt really welcome. Seeing a lot of friendly and smiling faces, I could picture myself being a part of the community here and really fitting in and enjoying myself for four years; I felt the same way at Wesleyan.”

Miranda looks forward to continuing her hockey career in the Little Three under the guidance of Head Coach Jodi McKenna.

Learn more about Sports Studies online.

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