Every year, high school athletes across the country find themselves determined to play their sport at the next level, though many of these athletes are tapered in the recruiting process as they strive for the wonder of playing at a Division I program. College sports, particularly in Division I, take a toll on student-athletes as they are elongated, devoting many hours a week, limiting them from other opportunities that invite college students. As you migrate from D1 to DIII, the level of commitment diminishes, and student-athletes have more time to spend in other areas of their life, outside of athletics. The Division I dream drives many student-athletes to narrow their college search, but it is important for these athletes to pick a college that is right for them, and not just any school willing to put them on a team or offer them playing time.
Sheena Landy, one of Trinity’s elite dual-sport athletes, had her pick of several Division I soccer programs, however she was not your typical high school athlete with Division I dreams. Sheena’s mind never strayed from the idea that she would play a collegiate sport, but she had uncertainties about which sport and at which level. Her soccer recruiting experience opened her eyes up to the light beyond Division I sports.
“Originally, I was only looking at schools for soccer - mainly Division I,” said Landy. “I was getting pretty far into the process and doing overnights at various schools. I realized through all these overnights that I didn’t really want to play Division I and that I really wanted to focus on my academics, but also have the opportunity to meet people that I wouldn’t necessarily have been friends with otherwise.”
Despite Sheena’s talent, she felt a more diverse college experience was the right choice for her. Upon her junior year, after dismissing her Division I desires, Sheena’s former assistant coach reached out to her asking her to visit Trinity. “I really hadn’t even thought about going to school in Connecticut until that day,” she says. “I ended up coming to visit my junior year and just felt like Trinity was where I wanted to be.”
Sheena first committed to play soccer at Trinity, and then during her senior basketball season, her coach reached out to Trinity, suggesting she may also want to play basketball. “I was a pretty nervous player in high school, so nobody told me that Trinity was coming to watch me play in a few of my high school state playoff games,” says Landy. “We ended up winning the state championship on a buzzer beater that year and then the Trinity coaching staff called me that week and asked me to play. It certainly wasn’t the normal recruiting process, that’s for sure.”
Growing up, Sheena’s mother always preached to her children to “find what you love”, so Sheena and her two siblings tried all sorts of sports, including gymnastics, softball, swimming and track. Despite her best sports being softball and swimming, basketball and soccer were the sports that she was passionate about. “I always got excited when it was time to play soccer and basketball, but playing multiple sports allowed me to really figure out what I loved, making it less of a job at a high school and collegiate level and more of a passion,” she explained.
As Sheena plays two sports at Trinity, her idea of sports being more of a passion than a job is perfectly illustrated. Playing two Division III sports compares similarly to the time commitment that is asked of a one-sport Division I athlete, but the reward is different. She gets to be the athlete she always wanted, competing in her two favorite sports, living a college life that is not centered around one team, year-round. For Sheena, the fall is devoted to soccer and the winter is devoted to basketball. Division III sports are no light matter either, and although she truly enjoys playing and competing, there are a lot of hours that go into each team’s season. The official start of basketball season overlaps with the end of soccer, so Landy is exempt from much of the basketball pre-season training that the team partakes in. Despite not touching a basketball for months, the fitness soccer requires makes for an easier transition into the winter sport. In the warmer months, she plays in a summer soccer league and also practices basketball on her own and plays in pick-up games on the outdoor courts in her hometown of Durham, Connecticut.
While there are trade-offs to playing two sports, not many collegiate athletes get to say they assume this role, and not many get to enjoy their sport in its purest sense. At the Division III level there are no athletic scholarships, and the student-athletes are competing for the love of the game. Typically, Division III athletes choose their school for reasons that are based around their entire college experience as opposed to just the program itself. Too often athletes commit to schools that they have never even seen just because they want to play their sport at the highest level. This happening does not always do the student-athlete justice, as their ambition may be too focused on athletics to see the importance of school beyond sports. Many of these student-athletes enjoy their time at college, but their sport may restrict them from venturing out into the different scenes, sometimes denying them of the rounded college experience they deserve or truly desire—like Landy has gotten at Trinity.
“Playing two sports at Trinity has been nothing less than incredible,” she says. “I am so happy with my decision to attend Trinity and would not change a single thing if I had to do it all over. I love having the soccer and basketball teams as my support nets. I’ve met some of my best friends/roommates here by playing two sports and have learned so much along the way. I also love how at this school it’s encouraged to get involved in things outside of sports. Most of my roommates are involved outside of athletics but will come support me at my events, and I’ll go support them at theirs. It’s definitely an environment you don’t find anywhere!”
Beyond her Mercy High School athletic accomplishments of being the soccer team’s MVP twice, a four-time All-League, two-time All-Area, one-time All-State player, a club soccer state title winner for South Central Premier, a senior academic All-Area and state title winner in basketball, and a CIAC scholar athlete, Sheena’s career has continued to flourish. As a soccer player, she lettered all four years, being named a two-time All-NESCAC selection and senior captain. Sheena also made the NESCAC All-Academic Team as a junior for both soccer and basketball. She helped the soccer program reach its first ever NESCAC final this fall before advancing to an NCAA regional game. Her most memorable game from her soccer career happened this fall, when Trinity beat then No. 2 ranked Williams in the NESCAC semi-final in penalty kicks. She compares the Williams game to wining the state basketball title her senior season on a buzzer beater.
“The PKs [penalty kicks] against Williams were also just the best feeling in the world. There were so many times where both teams could have easily put the game away, so it was crazy going into PKs. Walking up to take a penalty kick with your team at half field is definitely one of the scarier things. I don’t think I’ll miss that feeling. Julia Pitino, our goalie, just came up so big for us. I was so happy for her and for our team. Although we didn’t end up winning the NESCAC finals, it’s tough to forget that feeling of being on top of the world for a few minutes.”
Sheena’s decision to come to Trinity will be one she remembers for the rest of her life. “I chose to attend Trinity College because it had all the necessities for a great academic and athletic career. Not only is it an excellent environment for learning and maturing as a student-athlete, its geographic location allows for many opportunities that I would have not been able to find anywhere else.” Sheena’s experiences at Trinity have helped her grow as a person, whether it was her study-abroad trip to Barcelona, her tenure as team captain for two-sports, or her internship working for the Connecticut State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff. Even while playing two sports at Trinity, Sheena has been able to take advantage of the opportunities that division III athletes are offered.
“The Trinity College Legislative Internship Program has been one of the greatest experiences for me thus far. My junior spring I worked as a full-time intern for the Connecticut State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff through the Trinity Political Science Department and received credit for being a legislative intern for the 2016 session. This is certainly an opportunity that I would not have been able to get at any other school and has taught me countless things about our government, legislation, and the work environment in general. It was truly an incredible opportunity.”
Sheena is grateful to have had such an idyllic college career and comments that, “My academic, athletic, and social experiences at Trinity have taught me skills in leadership and time management that I know will help me in whatever job or career I pursue in the near future. A lot of the time a job will teach you certain technicalities about how to do something a specific way, but the leadership and communication I have learned through athletics, along with the ability to get things done in a small period of time, will help me in wherever life takes me.”
-Written by Nick DiBenedetto '17