Top of Their Game
Long before the sun has risen or the overnight frost has thawed, Aaron Green ’19 is in the Widener pool swimming laps.
“It’s a lot of hard work and mental toughness,” he said. “I put my head in the water, goggles on, and I’m doing my own thing. It’s a lot of time to think. It builds a lot of character.”
All those cold, early morning practices have paid off. Green is one of the most decorated Widener swimmers in recent memory, and he has etched his name in both school and conference record books.
This year, Green earned his third Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Men’s Swimmer of the Year honor, the first person ever to do so.
Green also has a MAC Rookie of the Year title, has twice competed at the NCAA DIII Swimming and Diving Championships – earning four Honorable Mention All-America accolades – and has broken school records in multiple strokes.
“It’s nice to know that even when I’m gone, I will still have my name on the Widener record board that hangs in the pool,” said the communication studies major. “And when I come back to watch friends, I’ll see that.”
Green is one of numerous Widener student-athletes who have recently reached personal milestones or broken records in their respective sports.
They attribute their feats to hard work, determination, and the close-knit environment created by their coaches and teammates, professors and classmates. This environment, they say, has helped them balance their academic and athletic commitments and find success in both arenas.
“Playing here has helped me become a leader, and helped me come out of my shell,” said volleyball player Nicole Dorman ’19, a psychology / pre-physical therapy student. “It’s also helped with time management and helped me learn how to focus my energy on the task at hand.”
While playing for the Pride, Dorman hit the dual volleyball milestone of 1,000 career digs and 1,000 career kills. She also holds the single-match school record for kills.
Dorman’s professors support her athletic pursuits, following her play and even attending home matches. “And on the athletics side,” she said, “the coaches are concerned about your academics.”
Teammate Abigail Sheerer ’20 soared her way into the university record books with an indoor high jump of 1.62 meters. It was also a significant personal achievement given her struggle with injury early in her collegiate career.
Track and field has taught Sheerer, a biology / pre-physical therapy student, that “to succeed in the classroom and in competition, you need confidence in everything you do. And there’s always someone there to help you. Professors here are always looking to help you, and coaches are always there to talk to. It’s a great support system.”
In fall 2017, swimmer Jillian Bujanowski ’20 bested the Widener record for the 200-meter butterfly by just one second. This year, she broke the new record – her record – by three seconds.
What Bujanowski loves about Widener is that even as a nursing major – splitting her time between classes and clinical rotations – she can still pursue the sport she loves.
You can balance the student and the athlete here. It’s flexible. You don’t have to choose or stop after two years. — Jillian Bujanowski '20
This season, Devan Rimmer helped carry the women’s basketball team to an impressive 20-8 record and its first playoff appearance since 2012-13.
On a personal level, the psychology / pre-physical therapy student tallied 550 points this season alone, the most in the NCAA era for Widener and the second most in program history. And she netted her 1000th collegiate career point, just the 12th player in school history to do so. It’s an impressive accomplishment, especially for a junior.
“To be in this 1,000-point category is amazing,” said Rimmer. “It was so much more fun to reach this milestone in a season that’s been so successful.”
Rimmer credits the Pride’s triumphs, in large part, to the team’s closeness. “We have each other’s backs. That definitely helps on the court.”