Got Game?

by Cindy Davis Meixel, writer/photo editor.

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The intensive care nurse uses the patience and focus she gained as an archer when juggling diverse, demanding duties on the hospital floor. The information technology specialist calls upon the confidence he accumulated over the course of his golfing career when complex computer networking problems arise. The construction supervisor incorporates the same team-building skills he learned on the soccer field into the creation of dream houses.

“The lessons learned on the fields and courts are lessons in competition, sacrifice, teamwork and goal setting.”

Student-athletes who’ve graduated from Pennsylvania College of Technology have left campus with more than the proficiencies learned in their respective majors. They’ve packed extra aptitudes obtained on the field, court, course and mat into their skill set and parlayed those talents into their careers, as well.

“Archery has taught me many lessons in life and great skills; most important is patience,” said Lindsey K. Fackler, nursing, ’10, a medical intensive care unit nurse at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. “I also learned how to put all my focus into one thing at a time. While shooting, you must block everything out around you and focus on your form, the target and your mind. While at work, when I have a patient that is becoming dangerously sick, I must juggle many pumps, machines, ventilators and families all while focusing on the patient. Archery has taught me how to tune out anything unimportant at that time.”

Lindsey Fackler was a three-time All-American archer and Academic All-American who was part of the college’s title-winning female compound team at the 2009 U.S. Intercollegiate Archery Championships. Photo by Kenneth L. Barto.Her participation in athletics also taught Fackler leadership skills, which were the main reason her former coach, Chad L. Karstetter, identified Fackler as an ideal archery representative to address the merging of athletics and career skills.

“We’ve had quite a few archers with great success stories during their time at the college and after graduation, as well, but the one who keeps coming to my mind is Lindsey Fackler,” said Karsetter, a 1999 forest technology graduate and a horticulturist at Penn College. “Not only was she a good archer, but she was a team captain, a team leader, a student adviser … who went above and beyond what she needed to do as a player. She was basically my assistant coach. She was the one everyone knew they could count on. Everybody respected her.”

Fackler believes the leadership qualities she developed by working with her coach and teammates have transferred to her job.

“I’m more assertive with physicians and families, and I’m also a charge nurse on the floor,” she said.

Developing self-assurance

Golfer-turned-head-coach Matthew Haile helped his team stay undefeated and capture conference championships. In 2003, he was the conference individual champion – the first since 1982. He was inducted into the Penn College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013. Photo by Cindy Davis Meixel.Taking control of a challenge – at work or in one’s game – relates to the matter of confidence for Matthew R. Haile, information technology/data communications and networking concentration, ’06.

“One thing I’ve learned is you need that confidence. I didn’t always have it. I wasn’t always a confident person. Some have it naturally, and for others, it comes with time as you get older,” Haile said, adding that life, like golf, is always “a work in progress.”

A former team member turned Penn College coach, Haile sees many young players lacking confidence, but with regular practice and consistent, solid shots, self-assurance grows.

“I try to teach them things I was taught, like you can do anything you put your mind to. You just need confidence in yourself, and once you develop that, you can do anything,” he said. “Golf is very much a mental sport as much as it is a physical sport, and you need to have a positive thought going into a tournament. Each and every thought is important.”

The confidence he cultivated on the course serves Haile well in his job as a network specialist in Information Technology Services at Penn College.

“I’ve always gotten a lot of satisfaction out of tearing something apart and fixing it – and it all comes back to confidence and how you look at things. I can figure anything out if I put my mind to it,” he said, adding that that belief was honed throughout his childhood by his father and enhanced by playing golf, starting at age 11, with his grandfather, and competing at the high school level prior to collegiate competition.

Working together

During Adam Waigand’s tenure, the Wildcats soccer team achieved a 55-14-1 record and a 2004 conference championship. An All-State selection, he helped the defense record 15 shutouts in his last two years. Waigand was inducted into the college’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013. Photo by Phillip C. Warner.The complexities of constructing new homes, complete with managing myriad layers of subcontractors, is the work of Adam N. Waigand, building construction technology, ’05. Waigand faces the formidable task with team-building skills first assembled on the soccer field.

“With the soccer team working together as a unit, it’s similar to what you do working together as a team building a house,” said Waigand, a construction supervisor based in Virginia with national company Drees Homes.

"You need to get everyone on the same game plan just like you need to get everyone on the same construction plan. Everything works more smoothly and a whole lot easier if everyone is on the same page.”

Soccer has its individual skill aspects, he says, but the team-building component is essential because “if you’re not clicking as a team, you’re not going to succeed passing the ball back and forth. You can only succeed as one unit.”

Waigand was introduced to construction as a boy, helping his father with various remodeling projects on the family home.

“When the time came to decide what to do (after high school), people always say, ‘Pick something you’ll enjoy doing for the rest of your life,’ so this was it,” he said.

The Penn College baseball team completed its winningest season ever, winning a school-record 24 games, in 2013. Photo by Larry D. Kauffman.Nowadays, instead of wielding hammers and saws, Waigand is managing plans and people and says he gains great satisfaction from his work.

“The ultimate goal is we’re building someone’s dream,” he said. “Whether it’s someone’s retirement home or a first home or a family who is needing to expand, it’s a large investment … so it’s exciting to be a part of that process.”

Like Haile, Waigand began playing his sport around the age of 11, in sixth grade. Soccer was something he simply “had a knack for,” and Waigand progressed from playing in a community league to travel teams competing nationally and, once, even internationally in England. At Penn College, he found the same competitive spirit and sense of belonging under the tutelage of former Penn College men’s soccer coach Andrew M. Richardson, the college’s clerk-of-the-works/construction manager.

Of Richardson, Waigand said, “He always promoted teamwork, camaraderie and working together as a unit.”

Haile’s collegiate mentor was the late Chester “Chet” D. Schuman, former director of admissions at Penn College.

“He was just so easy to talk to and get along with,” said Haile of his beloved coach. “I don’t remember a day that Chet was in a bad mood. An admirable quality of his was that he was a people person. He always knew how to make you laugh or smile. If you were having a bad round, Chet would come riding around in his cart; he’d always have a snack or drink for you, or he’d do or say something funny to lift your spirits.”

Middle blocker Sarah Fegley leaps during a Penn State University Athletic Conference quarterfinal win over Penn State Hazleton. Photo by Craig R. Urey.Fackler also found her coach to be a great source of inspiration for her sport and life.

“Chad has been one of the most influential people in my life,” she said. “He has helped me achieve goals I never dreamed of.”

When asked what advice she would give college freshmen considering joining an athletics team, Fackler offered, “Trying something new is always a great idea. I was a softball player my entire life, but I wanted a change, so I picked the archery team. Archery was only a game I played as a child; I knew how to shoot a bow, but nothing like when I came to the team. I struggled when I first started my archery career, so I had to keep pushing myself and listening to Chad’s advice, knowing that it will all click one day.”

In addition to the self-reliance gained by challenging oneself, Fackler says athletics offers endless enriching opportunities.

“You have the ability to travel, make new friends and gain new life experiences that may not come your way if a sport is not in your life. College is only a few short years; you may never get an opportunity again,” she advised. “Athletes can gain time-management (skills), and it helps (improve) grades, believe it or not. Sports can also help with stress management because the team can act as a social group that has the same goals. Archery has really changed a lot about my life. My experience at Penn College might not have been the same without it.”

Opening night for the Wildcats basketball season brings a "Blue Out" and thunderstick giveaway. Photo by Cindy Davis Meixel.Fackler, Haile and Waigand have all maintained connections to their sports – through personal enjoyment and by sharing their passions with others.

Fackler and her fiancée, Jason R. Kornbau, aviation maintenance technology, ’07 (they met on the archery team), are archery hunters and attempt to maintain their skills year-round with 3-D shooting and a summer archery festival. Coaching archery is also a target in Fackler’s future.

“I see coaching as a pay-it-forward goal,” she said.

Haile has served as Penn College’s golf coach since 2010 and continues to play golf with his grandfather, 92, and his grandfather’s golfing buddies.

Waigand is involved with TOPSoccer, an outreach program for young athletes with disabilities.

"The kids have different types of disabilities. Some use wheelchairs. We go out on the field and teach them the basics, the fundamentals,” he explained. “It’s actually a whole lot of fun.”

Scott E. Kennell, director of athletics at Penn College, agrees with the power of sports to provide students with a full collegiate experience as well as ongoing opportunities to intensify life skills.

“It’s my belief that participation in athletics is an extension of the total educational experience for the student-athlete. I’m a big believer of the concept that the student-athlete is first and foremost a student, while at the same time realizing the dividends gained through athletic competition. Integrity, sense of community, teamwork, sportsmanship, self-respect, self-confidence, leadership and loyalty all enrich the lives of each student-athlete who participates in athletics,” said Kennell, a soccer player who competed at high school, college and professional levels. “The lessons learned on the fields and courts are lessons in competition, sacrifice, teamwork and goal-setting. These lessons remain with a student for a lifetime.” ■

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