(Editor's Note: The Why Wheaton series will aim to document many alumnae/i and current student-athletes' stories throughout each month in an attempt to share why our past and present student-athletes have chosen to attend Wheaton. The goal of this series, which will be a mix of in-depth articles, quick highlights, videos and feature stories, is to showcase the amount of opportunities we have here at Wheaton. Hope you enjoy the stories.)
NORTON, Mass. – The mission of Wheaton College is to provide a transformative liberal arts education for intellectually curious students in a collaborative, academically vibrant residential community that values a diverse world. What Wheaton College also does is provide a bevy of opportunities for its students during their time at the college. We recently caught up with softball student-athlete Emily Berardi '15 (Boston, Mass./Boston Latin) for a question-and-answer session about her trip to Holland this summer.
Wheaton Athletics: How did you get to go and play softball in Holland?
Berardi: I was approached by the USA Athletes International (USAAI). There was a nomination process as well as fundraising in order to be able to attend the trip. USAAI sends athletes in numerous sports from across the country to all different locations in order to compete in international play.
Wheaton Athletics: What was your experience like?
Berardi: The experience I had in Holland was incredible. I met players from across the US and the Netherlands and got to compete in advanced play. As a team, we also got the opportunity to travel and sightsee. We visited the Anne Frank house in downtown Amsterdam, boarded a canal cruise and visited the Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn. We went to a Dutch cheese farm, where we saw how traditional wooden clogs are crafted and how cheese is made. We went to an ape zoo, where monkeys and other small animals wander freely. We also got the chance to see a castle in a small town in Germany. We tried authentic Dutch and German cuisine, and enjoyed learning about local history. We met so many great softball and baseball players from around the world, and recognized the ways in which sports can really bring people together.
Wheaton Athletics: Did you learn anything from an athletic or personal level that you have taken back with you?
Berardi: Even though the trip lasted nine days, I felt like I took so much from the experience. I met incredible people and saw some breathtaking sights all while getting the chance to play the sport I love. I feel like my eagerness to travel and see all the parts of the world increased and my encounters with sport at the international level was interesting as well. I saw the ways in which younger generations of softball players from the Netherlands looked up to members of the US team and that was the most rewarding part. I not only learned about Dutch culture, but exchanged experiences with my teammates from across the US as well, while gaining lasting friendships.
Wheaton Athletics: Why did you choose to attend Wheaton?
Berardi: I chose to attend Wheaton for its small school feel and advanced curriculum. It was also a school I could potentially play ball at so after approaching coach Powers for an opportunity to play, I knew Wheaton would be the right choice for me.
Wheaton Athletics: What are you looking forward to the most since you are a senior this year?
Berardi: I'm looking forward most to enjoying my last experiences at Wheaton – in the classroom and on the field. I am hoping to solidify the memories I already have at Wheaton and to give back to the place that has given me so many opportunities already.