Athlete Spotlight: Malia Pinder

Shy Yamasaki, Staff Writer

For this athlete spotlight, the Belltower interviewed Malia Pinder, who plays on the softball team as a Junior here at Saint Martin’s University. She started playing at a young age, being only in the second grade playing in high purple socks. Which, for her, was the start of her softball career. The inspiration behind her many years of softball is her father. He was her coach growing up and bonded through softball, amongst other things. “He taught me to compete, to be passionate, and to work hard. Over time, the values he instilled in me continued to inspire me to be a better athlete, student, and community member,” Malia states. Furthermore, Malia has very important goals to accomplish during her time here at SMU. 

One goal she has is to teach underclassmen how to compete in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, or GNAC’s. Malia states, “The conference can be tough, and I want them to succeed to elevate the program after I graduate.” She was also lucky enough to earn First Team All-Conference and All-Region honors last year. So, she is determined to strive to get those titles again this year. A core memory for her was when the softball team traveled to California and had a huge dance party on the field before their second game. Malia stated, “It was just so fun to dance with everyone and type each other up. Dance parties are my favorite.” Besides playing softball, Malia is an active community member here on campus. She is the Co-SAAC President alongside Jas Dhatt, a senior at SMU. Malia is also the Senator of Athletics on our Associated Students of Saint Martin’s University, or ASSMU for short. Additionally, she had an amazing opportunity to intern at Capitol City Law as a legal assistant and loved the overall experience. Lastly, she works for the Office of Admissions giving tours to prospective students.

You may be asking how she has time to manage all these great accomplishments. She states, “Time management is so tough! It’s all I know though. My whole life I have been a student-athlete, so you get into a routine and you understand what works for you.” Malia tries to get a lot done before practice so she can focus hard and be in the zone. Whenever she is tired after practice, she ensures she eats and goes to bed on time. “I’m a morning person though, so this works really well for me.” Malia states. A tip or trick Malia has to give to any student is to prioritize the things that make you most happy and that you can find a purpose in. “Don’t get too caught up in any one thing, find a healthy balance! Sports don’t define your worth as a person, no matter how much of your identity it is. The kind of teammate, person, and active member of society you are is so much more important,” Malia states. Even though balancing school, sports, and having a social is tough, so many people in the community here at SMU are living proof that it can be done.

Athlete Spotlight: New Athletic Director

Shy Yamasaki, Staff Writer

As we started the beginning of a new academic year, we welcomed a new Athletic Director here on campus. Steve O’Brien grew up in San Jose, CA. His interests were playing soccer, baseball and running track. He spent his time at Boston College and transferred to Santa Clara University, where he majored in History and Economics. During his time at Santa Clara University, he was a member of the men’s cross-country team. During his college years, he met Julianne at an alumni function, who is a civil engineer and ran cross country at Santa Clara University. O’Brien played on the USC men’s club soccer team and even attempted to pursue competitive soccer opportunities at the next level after he graduated. In addition to his education at Boston College and Santa Clara University, O’Brien studied at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law. He practiced transactional finance and in real estate as an attorney. After his practice in transactional finance and as a real estate attorney, he was able to pursue his career in college athletic administration. O’Brien’s stops were at Santa Clara University, the University of California, Santa Barbara, the United States Naval Academy and San Jose State University before he joined us at SMU. 

O’Brien hopes to focus on making the athletic department more process-oriented. O’Brien stated, “I believe that ‘winning teams’, the measure by which most people may consider the defining benchmark of success in athletics, is a lagging indicator.  In order to get to that point, and in order for competitive success to be more sustainable and of greatest consequence, a foundation for that success must be built.  That will happen by taking a series of deliberate steps. For the purposes of this article, I think we can boil it down to 5 steps.” Within those steps, he has mentioned that relationship building and assessment are ‘key constituents inside athletics, across the campus, and throughout the community.’ Furthermore, with this step, it will help keep the trains running on time and address time-sensitive issues. The other steps include plan development, experimentation and scaling, have Saint Athletics produce across three critical areas and assess, refine and re-attempt. Another hope O’Brien has for SMU, as a whole, is to demonstrate a robust and competitively successful mission aligned intercollegiate athletic program. With that, he also wants that intercollegiate athletic program competitiveness here so it can ‘positively contribute to the overall development of student-athletes while simultaneously benefitting the entire campus community, advancing strategic institutional objectives and serving a critical relationship building function with families, alumni and local/regional community partners.”  

O’Brien is a hard worker and very dedicated to the things that are important to him. Much of his free- time centers around his family and youth sports. He has helped coach his eldest son’s soccer and baseball teams. He is looking forward to being more involved with his younger son’s team when he is able to start playing. O’Brian also enjoys running the trails here on campus. “The trails around Saint Martin’s campus are incredible!” O’Brien stated. He also is looking forward to exploring more of Washington and the PNW with his family. Currently, he is committing himself to becoming more adept at using social media.

Athlete Spotlight: Noah Boyd

Eric Bell, Staff Writer

As the second semester is off and running, we have moved along into a new sports season! Spring seasons are gearing up and before they get completely underway, The Belltower decided to catch up with a student-athlete on the Saint Martin’s track and field team, Noah Boyd. 

Noah Boyd is a freshman on the team. Before he was a Saint, Noah attended Olympia high school where he played football, track, and was also a member of the basketball team. Way to go Noah!

Currently, Noah has found an event he is very passionate about, competing in the 400 hurdles. With being so busy, he was gracious enough to take some time to share a bit about his first year as a Saint. 

“It’s been pretty good”, said Boyd, “I’ve had decent grades as far as school goes and track has been pretty good.” Boyd then got into more about being a student-athlete here at Saint Martin’s. “Honestly, just everyone has been really friendly.” This is a common theme from students about being here. With such a small campus, everyone seems to know everyone, and the people seem to be able to develop pretty close connections here. Maybe it’s because people have a better chance of getting to know each other, but everyone is friendly and welcoming. As a lot of Saint Martin’s is comprised of student-athletes, many people here understand what each other are going through and respect the time and effort it takes to juggle school and sports. Even for people who don’t play sports here, the school does a good job at getting people involved, so much that many people do some sort of extracurricular activity.

“A lot of people on the track team have been very talkative and been really open to me,” Boyd said. It is awesome that freshmen especially feel like they have a place here, as we all know transitioning into college from high school can be very difficult. 

Teammates being communicative and open are important because they can help answer any questions new student-athletes on campus may have. These types of teammates can also help others feel comfortable just being themselves. People should feel all they need to be is themselves, and it is great if others can help them get there. This is a lesson to all of us, whether we are teammates or not, is to be able to appreciate people for who they are.

Finally, when I asked Boyd about what he is excited for in the future here, he replied with, “Competing, honestly.” That is a great answer, and an answer that resonates well with many student-athletes. I think I can speak for the majority of athletes on this one: we just want to play. It is truly a blessing to be able to play the sport we love at this level, and we are all truly grateful to be where we are today.

Boyd then goes on to say, “I’m a walk-on so I haven’t got to go to any meets yet, but I look forward to getting better and hopefully getting a scholarship soon.” That is a great mindset to have, and I am confident that his goal of getting better is what will help him going forward. I wish him all the best. Good luck Noah and enjoy your time here. 

Saint Martin’s University Track and Field/Cross Country logo

Via: Saint Martin’s XC/TF (@SMUSaints_XCTF) / Twitter