From Field Hockey to Building Consensus in the Classroom: An Interview with Bates' Sydney Beres '18

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Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am originally from New York City. I recently graduated from Bates College as an American Cultural Studies major. I was a member and senior captain of the field hockey team and participated in extracurricular activities such as book buddies and tutoring at the local elementary schools in Lewiston, Maine. I am currently working as an Associate Kindergarten Teacher at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York.

How did you start playing field hockey, and when did you know you wanted to play it collegiately?

I always played sports growing up, whether it was soccer, lacrosse, sailing or basketball - I was always doing something athletic. I started playing soccer in a weekend league starting at five years old and continued playing soccer until 7th grade. It was around this time I was introduced to field hockey and realized that I really enjoyed it. So, in 8th grade, I hung up my soccer cleats and played on the middle school field hockey team. 

In high school, one of my assistant coaches on the field hockey team asked me and three other players to join her club team. I decided to join, and this was when I started to get more serious about potentially playing field hockey in college as I was introduced to the recruiting process.  My love for the sport and for being on a team certainly influenced my desire to try to play collegiately. My mom also played field hockey in high school and college, which probably also played a role in my decision.

Describe your experience at Bates.

I loved being a student athlete at Bates College. When I was a freshman, it was nerve racking to be a part of a new setting. The great thing was that I instantly had 24 people to help answer all of my questions about Bates and transitioning into college. In the next three years, I really enjoyed mentoring and helping the freshman, sophomores, and juniors navigate through school, which the upperclassman had once done for me.

What I treasured most about being a student athlete at Bates were the friendships I made on the team. There is a bond that is formed that is unlike others that you make at college. Being on a team was also very important to me as I learned a lot about myself and further developed my interpersonal skills. I also learned more about working through issues as a team and working together to achieve all of our goals.

What was your biggest challenge as a student athlete and as a team captain?

As a student athlete, you have to really be on top of your work and be able to balance your studies, practices and games, lifts, as well as your social life. One of the biggest challenges I had as a student athlete and as a team captain was having so many different personalities, ages, and maturity levels all on one team. This experience made me more skilled at building consensus amongst a group of contrasting viewpoints.

Describe your transition after college. Where you prepared to no longer be an athlete? 

Yes and no. I think that being in season can be tough and feel long at times, so I was ready for a break. At the same time, I miss it so much. Although I could play in an adult league, I will never beat Amherst or Tufts ever again. I will never score against Middlebury ever again. I will never feel that rush of energy through my body when my team won or put in their best effort even when we lost. I miss the school spirit that was a part of being on the Bates Field Hockey team.

Did you always know you wanted to be a teacher?

I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher because I enjoy working with children and youths. I like introducing new ideas to the students and helping them to understand these concepts. 

What about your job is well suited for former collegiate athletes?

There are many aspects about my job that is well suited for former collegiate athletes. This includes: building consensus around issues, offering advice on how to solve conflicts, establishing a positive atmosphere by building trust, fostering an inclusive community, and reinforcing collaborative behavior. 

What is it about being a collegiate athlete that you feel helped prepare you to succeed as a teacher?

Being a collegiate athlete has helped me transition through all of the experience I’ve had working with many different personalities and having to appreciate different perspectives. The discipline and commitment that I learned has also been very valuable, as I need to be very organized as a teacher and committed to helping my children achieve their fullest potential. 

What advice would you give to your younger self and to current collegiate athletes?

You shouldn’t take playing a sport in college for granted. Although it can be really hard at times, you probably will not get the same opportunity again to play a sport that you love, on a team with 24 or more of your closest friends. Really enjoy it and appreciate what you are learning on a social and emotional level.