Eddie Nogay '14
One spring afternoon a few years back, it struck me that I had made the right decision. The urge to play college baseball paired with the idea of pursuing a worthwhile degree motivated me to be selective in choosing which college to attend. Playing a college sport was the dream, but acceptance in to law school was always the goal. I wanted both. It didn’t seem balanced to have to pick between the two and spend my undergraduate years pursuing one and abandoning the other. In particular, I felt a strong urge to compete at the next level while earning a degree that would prepare me to excel in graduate school. What I realized on that spring afternoon, while sitting in the library during my final semester of law school and watching the W&J baseball team compete for a Division III National Championship on my laptop, was that my decision to attend Washington and Jefferson College enabled me to do both.
Washington & Jefferson College is a small, private liberal arts college about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh, Pa. and a reasonable drive from where I grew up. For me, the location could not have been better. As one of triplets, I was influenced by my brother’s decision to attend WVU and play baseball, and my sister’s choice to attend Pitt to pursue her dream of becoming a veterinarian. We would all be attending colleges within 75 miles of one another along Interstate 79. At W&J, I was right in the middle – literally and figuratively.
As a member of the W&J baseball team, I learned the importance of punctuality, accountability, and time management. These are habits I practice every day in the real world. A winning tradition, top-notch facilities, and a recruiting class of other student-athletes that wanted to get it done both on the field and in the classroom validated my decision to attend W&J. Our team twice competed in the NCAA Tournament, chased down school records, and won championships. I look back and realize how lucky I was to have such an amazing opportunity, an opportunity to surround myself with like-minded, driven individuals and play for a coach who emphasized academic excellence and attention to detail. I have benefitted immensely from the routine-driven lifestyle that I led as a D-III student athlete and would not be where I am today without that life experience. My “former teammates” are now life-long friends, and I have a calendar filled with upcoming wedding invitation dates to prove it. We stay involved in each other’s lives and make it a point to meet up every so often and relive those stories that only get better with time.
Looking back, I really appreciate the well-rounded liberal arts education I received at W&J and the life lessons gained from four years as a college athlete. W&J taught me to think critically, pursue my interests, and keep an open mind. During my studies in English and Philosophy I developed an interest in poetry and literature and an intellectual curiosity about the world around me. These traits enabled me to excel later in law school. I graduated at the top of my law school class, passed the bar exam and earned a clerkship with a federal judge. Many people at W&J played a major role in my success.
Reminiscing on the details of fall ball games under the lights at Ross Memorial Park, 5:30 a.m. conditioning sessions in the gym, spring trips to Florida, and bus rides to away games all over the PAC comprise some of my most cherished memories. I chose to play baseball at a Division III school so that I could compete from day one, surround myself with good people, and never lose sight of my goals for life after college.
From incredible professors to teammates who became my brothers, W&J provided a college experience that was equal portions academics and athletics. That balance, I believe, is the true essence of a Division III student-athlete —or as the Romans phrased it, “Mens sana in copore sano”— a healthy mind in a healthy body. I will always be grateful that my parents encouraged me to attend W&J and for the opportunity to earn a degree from a top notch school and play college baseball. I will carry with me those unforgettable experiences and enduring life lessons, and always give credit to W&J.
This piece was written for the Presidents' Athletic Conference's (PAC) participation in the NCAA's seventh annual Division III Week. Visit the PAC online at www.pacathletics.org.