For sophomore education major Sydney Offield, transitioning to life at William Jewell College was more of a homecoming than a brand new beginning. She began her undergraduate career at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Mo., and a large part of her decision to transfer to Jewell was her desire to return to her hometown of Liberty.
Being from the area, Offield was aware of the College’s competitive academic reputation.
“I really wanted to be challenged and pushed in a different way, and I knew Jewell was very prestigious for their academics, so that’s why I came back,” she said.
Offield has not been disappointed in this regard. The professors and class sizes are what she was hoping to find, making her transition into the community feel smooth.
It is not just in academics that Offield wanted a new direction. She has been playing basketball since the age of six when her uncles, one of whom played for Jewell himself, introduced her to the game. She explained that her passion has only grown as she has. In fact, the concise and effective way women’s basketball coach Jill Slominski coaches was even more of a motivator to transfer than was her academic career.
“When we come to practice, we get right to it, and we do what we need to do, and once we accomplish that then we’re good,” she said.
Coach Slominski and the other women on the team have been welcoming in a more personal way, as well.
“Coach Slominski is very, very family oriented,” Offield said. “She has a great heart, and you can tell how much she cares about us, which makes the whole basketball team just family oriented. We’re always there for each other, we would do anything for one another. I think that she’s also very understanding of academics, a lot more than a lot of college coaches are.”
Slominksi was excited to bring Offield into the College’s basketball team precisely because of her affinity to the intellectual and community vibes on campus.
“I was really excited to have Sydney transfer here to Jewell. Not just because she is a great player but she is an excellent student and outstanding person. She is extremely driven and that shows in her performance on and off the court. I think Sydney will bring enthusiasm to our team. She is a great encourager and communicator,” Slominski said.
This positive team environment has added to the ease of Offield’s transfer as well as her love of the sport. The Nest, Jewell’s new spirit club, is an exciting prospect for her as well. It adds to the uplifting environment she says she has seen on campus so far.
Offield has three more years at Jewell before graduation, but she is already planning for the future, and basketball is not going to be left behind. She hopes to go on to a master’s program specializing in education for English Language Learners, where she could begin a coaching career and be a graduate assistant. She is absolute in her desire to coach when she begins her teaching career.
“There’s always the opportunity to keep playing,” Offield said.
The women’s basketball team will play its first exhibition game Nov. 4 at 3:00 p.m. at the University of Missouri – Kansas City.
Photo courtesy of the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America.