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Division III Week Student-Athlete Spotlight: In My Own Words by Connor Baer

D3 Week Image of Men's Soccer player Connor Baer

WASHINGTON – Gallaudet University athletics is proud to participate in the seventh annual NCAA Division III Week (April 2-8) in an effort to celebrate the impact athletics and Bison student-athletes have on our campus and surrounding community. GU is joining 450 Division III institutions and 43 conferences in this week’s celebration.

To help focus on the many student-athletes that represent Gallaudet athletics we will spotlight two different student-athletes each day this week. You will learn more about them as they express their feelings on what it is like to be a Division III student-athlete here at Gallaudet. Interviews were conducted by the Gallaudet Sports Information Office.

Senior Connor Baer (Fremont, Calif.) recently finished his third season on the Gallaudet men's soccer team. He is a double major in History and International Studies with a minor in Government and is expected to graduate in May 2019. 

In My Own Words: Connor Baer

What is it like to be a student-athlete in college?
CB: I have always been a student-athlete growing up, but being one in college gives me a different perspective. The student-athlete lifestyle is not easy as it is tough to juggle different commitments with the expectation of giving my best on the field every time. I would not trade the experience I have as a student-athlete due to the great feeling that I get from the opportunity to represent Gallaudet. Without a doubt, being a student-athlete allowed for huge personal and professional growth because the struggles during practices and games now guide me in how I manage life decisions. Ultimately the student-athlete experience has taught me that it is not all about winning – we all lose in life at one point or another, and failure itself provides a learning experience for me in becoming the man I want to be. 

What is it like to be a student-athlete at Gallaudet University?
CB: It is definitely a different experience representing Gallaudet. I am a culturally rooted Deaf person and Gallaudet has been part of my life growing up. Many of my family members and people I know graduated from Gallaudet. It gives me a sense of pride and blessing for the ability to compete for thousands of Deaf people who have fought and paved the way for where Gallaudet stands today. Gallaudet is on a spotlight for being the only Deaf university in the world and not every Deaf person will have the ability to play soccer for Gallaudet. Every time I put on my uniform, I always know that I am representing something bigger than myself. I am given the opportunity to do so and it builds a strong sense of respect, reflected in how I approach the game of soccer with the best representation possible.

What are your goals after graduation, what do you hope to do in life?
CB: It is definitely a question that has been asked to me countless times – there is a lot riding on what I want to do after graduation. My long-term goal is to pursue a doctorate degree in history and give back to the Deaf community. For starters – I definitely want to travel around the world and do some humanitarian work with a focus on Deaf youths. I also hope to work for the Peace Corps as I feel that would be of a good start for my future endeavors.   

How does if feel to be the first senior since Coach Braz has been here at Gallaudet? What do you feel is the biggest lesson you've learned as captain in your three years on the team?
CB: It is hard to believe that my time is nearing the end; it has been a long time coming with the soccer program. I still clearly remember the first day of tryouts with Coach Braz who could barely sign. I am proud of what the program has accomplished for three years and how the soccer community has grown on campus. I am humbled to be team captain for the third year; the biggest lesson I learned is resiliency. The program bloomed from almost nothing in only three years – a new coach with new players unsure where the direction of the program would go. In playing sports growing up – this is the experience where I get the most losses in a season- this is definitely not a fun feeling. Although, it comes with an understanding that nothing happens overnight and with resiliency – I can see the program build with committed players and recruits. With that, winning starts to come in the picture – we are not where we want to be yet but the progress of growth is there. Resiliency is definitely the biggest takeaway; putting in the work to allow progress for the future of the program. I feel great coming back for one more season with the aim of nothing but making it to the conference playoffs.
 
Division III Week Fact of the Day
Did you know that Division III student-athletes report greater involvement in volunteering. 

Division III Week Student-Athlete Spotlight: In My Words
Saturday: Connor Baer (Men's Soccer) | Darriyan Thomas (Women's Volleyball)
Friday: Devonte Ramsey (Men's Basketball) | Hannah Carter (Softball)
Thursday: Jonathan Tikhonoff (Men's Swimming) | Sabrina Hernandez (Women's Soccer)
Wednesday: Michael Haynes (Men's Track and Field) | Fatuma Ali (Women's Cross Country)
Tuesday: Matthew Carcraft (Football) | Shakeedra Hubbard (Women's Basketball)
Monday: Ren Hohneke (Men's Cross Country) | Jana Kiefer (Women's Swimming)

About Division III Week
Division III Week is a positive opportunity for all individuals associated with Division III to observe and celebrate the impact of athletics and of student-athletes on the campus and surrounding community. During the week, every Division III school and conference office is encouraged to conduct a type of outreach activity that falls into one of three categories: academic accomplishment; athletic experience; or leadership/community service/campus involvement. For more information log onto www.ncaa.org/about/division-iii-week-2018.

About Gallaudet
Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English. Gallaudet maintains a proud tradition of research and scholarly activity and prepares its graduates for career opportunities in a highly competitive, technological, and rapidly changing world. For more information about Gallaudet University please log onto www.gallaudet.edu.