Breaking Records

It’s the bottom of the sixth inning of the Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth championship softball game between Widener and Lebanon Valley. The score is deadlocked at 3-3, and Widener senior captain Nicole Burt is coming up to the plate with two outs and runners on first and second base. After fouling off four pitches and watching another sail outside of the strike zone, Burt slaps the ball through the middle, plating Liv Rogers, and sending her teammates and the Widener faithful into a frenzy. Shortly afterwards, the program officially breaks through and wins the first conference title in school history.

A psychology major who plans on pursuing a master’s degree and a career in occupational therapy, Burt believes being a student-athlete as part of the Widener softball program has shaped her into the person she is today and prepared her for life ahead.

“I know I can be put into high-pressure situations and how to deal with them, and I know about the importance and benefits of relying on others with the understanding they can also rely on me,” said Burt, who has also had other opportunities to develop her leadership skills at Widener as a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Pride Activities Council, and Psi Chi, the national honor society in psychology.

Achieving success and breaking records has not been restricted to the softball program at Widener. While the softball team was making its historic postseason run, another group of student-athletes was rewriting the recordbooks, making Widener the first school to have its senior class win 12 Middle Atlantic Conference championships over four years in the sports of men’s cross country, men’s indoor track & field, and men’s outdoor track & field.

A centerpiece of all 12 championships has been six-time All-American Ernie Pitone, who has won a plethora of individual accolades over the course of his illustrious career.

Pitone believes the experiences of being a student-athlete and the supportive environment at Widener have helped prepare him for the real world. This most notably includes the importance of building relationships with diverse people who are pursuing the same goals, and working together as a team to achieve and surpass those goals.

“We learned that working as a team is more important than working alone,” explained Pitone. “Even though we come from different backgrounds, we all have our strengths and have come to see how putting all of those strengths together can allow for a group to be successful.”

This supportive environment is not just limited to the softball, men’s cross country, and men’s track & field programs. It extends to all varsity sports at the institution.

“Our team is very close and like a family,” added Burt when describing the culture of the softball program. “I wanted to come to a place where I could feel comfortable, and I feel like I definitely got all the support and guidance I needed to surpass my personal goals and become a leader and role model for others by choosing Widener.”