Mills College Salutes Its Graduating Athletes
They are an unusual species on the Mills campus. You may have seen them running up Pinetop Hill in the fading hours of twilight, or driving off in a van headed to Briones Reservoir on a misty morning before the sun is up. They can be found breaking the water in the pool on a chilly January morning, or walking off the field with mud-caked cleats and scratched legs. You'll see them sweating on the baking tennis courts on a Saturday afternoon, or diving for a ball on the gym floor, heedless of the bruises they'll have later. They are the Mills Cyclones, the student-athletes who take whatever spare time school allows them and spend it proving to themselves again and again that they can be better than they were before.
This week, the Weekly salutes those athletes who have completed their time at Mills, and who are either graduating or completing their time in the Mills Nursing Program to continue their nursing education elsewhere. While their many hours of training have often gone unnoticed, their contributions to Mills have not.
Emily was a member of the Mills cross country team for three years. She was a strong, quiet leader who never complained about working hard, and often said things like "I like doing interval workouts. They're fun." During this year's fall season, the team voted her as one of their captains. She continued leading her teammates as a volunteer assistant for the Mills track and field PE class this spring. This year, Emily won the Trefethen award, an honor that is presented annually to the graduating senior scholar-athlete with the highest cumulative grade point average. She completed her degree at Mills with a 3.96 GPA, majored in history, and is pursuing a graduate degree in education and a career as a high school teacher and cross country coach.
Emily Bacon rowed for Mills for three years, and was a Varsity rower for all three of those years. This year she rowed Stroke in the Varsity Four boat. Emily was known as a strong presence on her team who led by example. She was someone you could count on, and her dedication to her team and her sport meant that when Emily rowed, she would always give it her best possible effort. She was also a fine student, majoring in bio-chemistry with an emphasis in molecular biology and a minor in women's studies, and maintained a high enough GPA to be a 2-time Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) National Scholar. This honor is given to varsity crew athletes who have competed in at least seventy-five percent of the races in the spring season, and who have achieved a 3.5 cumulative grade point average or higher. Emily recently added more accolades to her athletic career by winning the Dorothy Keller Award for her overall contribution to the Mills Athletic program, loyalty to her team, optimism in the face of adversity, and quality of commitment and effort. She has also volunteered for the past two years as an AIDS Hotline counselor.
Mailee Wang was a cox'n on the Mills rowing team for two years. As the athlete who verbally directed her team at the helm of the boat every race, she had to build great trust with her teammates and establish herself as a reliable leader. Mailee had a unique ability to motivate her teammates to do their best, and kept them focused with her calming, powerful presence. A PLEA major, Mailee was an exceptional student, and was a CRCA National Scholar this year. She also won the Student-Athlete Service Award for her passion in reaching out to the greater Bay Area community. Her community service involvement included raising $2,000 for Castro Valley's American Cancer Societies' "Relay For Life," helping to educate the community about methods to prevent HIV/AIDS, and volunteering for Jamaica AIDS Support, the Court Appointed Special Advocate for Alameda County, and the Group Homes Program.
Merri Gordon has shown the Mills rowing team what it means to be a leader in the midst of adversity. She rowed for Mills for two years, and for the first time moved to stroking the Varsity Lightweight Four boat this semester. Although she faced some poignant challenges while at Mills, she continued to stay positive and quietly lead her team. Her teammates and coaches knew her as someone who had a great outlook, who appreciated the good things in her life, and who was an excellent-and extremely buff-leader. Merri was a biology major, and was a continual inspiration to her team.
Shannon Van Meir
Shannon Van Meir was a rock on the Mills Rowing team for four years. Her coaches describe her as the kind of athlete you always want: positive, dedicated, teachable, and relentlessly reliable. Shannon was a true team leader, and regularly put the team before herself. During her four years at Mills, she saw the Rowing team go through many changes, and was always there to lead the team through those challenges and help them to stay positive. Shannon was an excellent student, a 3-time CRCA National Scholar Athlete, a Mills Scholar Athlete, and a studio art major with an emphasis in photography.
Erica Worthington played on the Mills Soccer team for four years, and was continually one of the top goal scorers. She started all four years, and was a hard worker who could be counted on to be aggressive on the field. She brought a tremendous amount of talent and skill to her game, and as a result played almost every minute of every game this season. Erica was also a Mills Scholar Athelete and a NAIA National Scholar, an award presented to a junior or senior athlete who has achieved and maintained grade point average above 3.5 and who has met specified performance requirements per sport.
Kate Mack was a strong asset to the Mills soccer team for two years, and brought both a high skill level and a fun presence to her team. Off the field she was fun, goofy, and free-spirited. On the field, she was a skilled, powerful shooter, and was consistent both in her performance individually and her ability to play well with her teammates.
During her year of playing soccer at Mills, Kristen Hopkins started every game, and was a solid presence on the team. She came to Mills with a solid background of soccer, and used that talent and skill to contribute to the team. She was continually calm on the field, and was very committed to her team. She was a Mills Scholar Athlete, an honor that goes to student-athletes with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 and above.
Although Meghan Burke-O'Connor is graduating from Mills after playing on the soccer team for two years, this year won't be her last. She is planning to return to Mills in the fall as a graduate student, and is looking to come back next year and play another season. While she was an undergraduate soccer player at Mills, Meghan was a strong asset to the team, particularly during the last year, when she improved dramatically, going from a non-starting spot to a starting spot. She brought to the team an incredible work ethic, a great positive attitude, and a love for her sport. She was a tremendously coachable athlete, and soaked in any instruction she was given. Meghan was also a Mills Scholar athlete and a NAIA Scholar Athlete, and coached a charter school girls' soccer team in Oakland while at Mills.
Tashi Parsons-Moss was a soccer player for Mills for four years, and was a true leader on her team. Her dedication was evident on a daily basis; she rarely missed any practices during her 4 years playing at Mills. She came to Mills with limited skills as a freshwoman, but finished her athletic years at Mills with a starting spot on the team. She never gave up during a game; she let her opponents know that she was present and she was not going to let them do things the easy way. On top of all of this, she was a double major, had a consistently high GPA, and yet still gave 100% to the soccer program. Tashi was recently awarded the Myrt Whitcomb Leadership award as a testimony to her tenacity, passion, and commitment to her team and her sport.
Alexi Ueltzen was on the Mills swimming team for four years, and went to NAIA Nationals twice during that time. Alexi was also a Mills Scholar Athlete as well as a NAIA Scholar Athlete, an honor given to junior or senior student-athletes who have a 3.5 or better GPA, and who qualify for nationals. She was also a recipient of the Mills Athletic Achievement Award for her performance at Nationals. She was known on her team as a strong leader who was able to grow and learn in the midst of adversity. Her sense of humor and exemplary leadership will be missed. Alexi is from Fair Oaks, CA, and will leave Mills this May with a degree in English and Creative Writing.
Lauren Liebermann joined the team this year as a sophomore the Mills Nursing Program. She had previously played soccer for two years, where she was a great defender and a hard worker. After the soccer season was over, she came to the swim team with a willingness to swim many different events right away. Her work ethic, smile, and warmth will be missed.
Jessica Embree, a sophomore from San Jose in the Mills nursing program, will end her time at Mills this spring after swimming for Mills for one year. This season, Jessica found her spot on the team right away and established herself with a caring, hard-working attitude, and the ability to engage all of her teammates. She qualified for and competed at the NAIA National meet as part of the 200-yard freestyle relay, and was a recipient of the Mills Athletic Achievement Award for her performance at Nationals. She was a Mills Scholar Athlete, won a Mills Scholarship Award for having the highest cumulative GPA on her team, and was given the "Champion of Character" award from the NAIA, an award which goes to a national championship competitor who is nominated by the other coaches at the meet for her merits as an athlete with exemplary character, positive attitude, loyalty to her team, and quality of effort.
Britt Card played for the Mills tennis team for three years, and was a hard worker, a tenacious competitor, and continually maximized her ability as a player to win matches. She was a reliable, mature presence on the team, and won her last three matches at Mills to help the tennis team end with eight wins and nine losses, their best record in many years. A PLEA major, Britt was also a Mills Scholar Athlete.
The Mills athletic coaches would like to thank their graduating and departing athletes for their contribution during their time at Mills. We are confident that these athletes will bring the same dedication and vigor to their life after Mills that they did to every practice and competition. They have been greatly appreciated, and will be greatly missed.