Getting a Grip with Leilani Alferos 'Welcome to College'

Aug. 24, 2009

Being at the BEST Bridge Program at OSU was been one of the most remarkable experiences of my life. As an incoming freshman, I had no idea what to expect out of those three upcoming weeks. All I knew was that I was going to take classes, train with my new teammates and hopefully become more adapted to college by the time I was through with the program. I came back with so much more than I ever imagined: knowledge of the campus, new friends, college credits from the classes and a new family.

The first day, Tanya and Michael Chaplin picked me up from the Portland airport after my flight from Orange County and drove me to Corvallis. Later that day, my other teammates who were attending the BRIDGE program with me - Kelsi Blalock and Makayla Stambaugh - arrived. Together, we moved into our home for the next three weeks, Sackett Hall. My suitcase was so heavy that the airlines had to put bright neon orange stickers on it that read, 'HEAVY, bend your knees.' And walking up the stairs? Not enjoyable at all. Makayla grabbed the back end of my suitcase as I grabbed the front of it and we walked up three flights of stairs until I felt my luggage drop and I looked back to see her on the ground. Gymnasts are so coordinated.

In the evening we were introduced to a bunch of other incoming athletes from various sports including men and women's basketball, volleyball and one men's golfer. Mary Prindiville, who was the BEST Bridge Program coordinator, discussed the basis of the BRIDGE program, its purposes, and a general schedule of the upcoming weeks.

That week, we started our classes that we would be taking over the course, which were ALS 199 (Academic Life Skills) and ENG 106, which focused solely on poetry. The first day was completely overwhelming, and we all felt the pressure from the academic side as well as athletic side because we had all started to acclimate to our new sport environments. However, as the days continued, the workload became more manageable, thanks to the help of our study table time we had during the weekdays, and the conditioning became more endurable than before.

The OSU gymnastics team and coaches were incredibly nice and supportive through our initial struggles from getting used to the equipment and conditioning. Some of the team even came to visit us in our dorms one night. Laura-Ann Chong took us for a float on the river, and Stephanie McGregor and Leslie Mak joined us for dinner with the coaches and our first baseball game at OSU (the Corvallis Knights collegiate summer league team). I found that being around so much talent and so many positive attitudes really motivated me to train hard.

Aside of the academics and athletics, we had the opportunity to bond with the other athletes in other ways as well. We went whitewater rafting down the Mackenzie River, saw the re-creation of Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night, went to the START program Dixon Night, attended a barbeque and just spent some real bonding time together. We would have random dancing in rooms, watch movies together, sing karaoke, and me and one of my new friends, Camille Saxton (volleyball player), even played a practical joke on the boys by taping clear packaging tape to their doors in the morning. Just hanging out with each other were some of the most fun and unforgettable moments of my time there.

Overall, the BEST Bridge Program widened my perspective of college life. I learned about the quantity of effort I must put into every day, whether that be for academics or athletics. The friendships I have made there will only strengthen to form even tighter bonds. College definitely will test my priority list and it is essential I chose what is at the top of my list wisely. Athlete, or non-athlete, I am a college student and my decisions will define me. Go Beavers and welcome to college!

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