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Student-athletes ride the bench

Caitlyn+Duval+looks+downfield+for+the+ball+while+instructing+her+teammates.+Photo+credit%3A+Royal+T+Lee-Castine
Caitlyn Duval looks downfield for the ball while instructing her teammates. Photo credit: Royal T Lee-Castine

Caitlyn Duval looks downfield for the ball while instructing her teammates. Photo credit: Royal T Lee-Castine

Caitlyn Duval looks downfield for the ball while instructing her teammates. Photo credit: Royal T Lee-Castine

Gabriel Moreno

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Every student-athlete has the vision of stepping onto the field as a starter but through bad grades, injuries or a lack of experience, their dreams are cast from the bench.

Men’s Soccer

Sophomore goalkeeper, Luke Dennison is no stranger to warming the bench. Dennison red-shirted his first year and saw no playing time last season, and has only had 17 minutes this season.

“I wouldn’t say it killed my morale,” Dennison said. “I was ineligible last year, and it made me want to work on myself.”

Dennison dedicated his time in the off-season to improving his game and ensuring his eligibility. Despite his lack of playing time this season, Dennison said he is not phased and intends to continue to focus on his vision.

“Soccer is my goal, it is something I want to do professionally. I use my situation to keep myself motivated,” Dennison said. “I’m a goalkeeper coach on the side allowing me to critique and learn from others.”

Women’s Soccer

First-year goalkeeper Caitlyn Duval red-shirted her first year on the team. Duval said she felt unappreciated her first year, but realized that steadily improving her game from the sideline made her a stronger player.

“At first it did feel demoralizing, but when I saw what the team was all about it helped me prepare for the real thing and how to be a better player,” Duval said.

Duval now has over 800 minutes on the field this season and said she thinks it’s well earned.

“The team and coaching staff helped me keep focus during my time as a redshirt,” Duval said. “They helped me begin to understand why I was in this position.”

Women’s Volleyball

First-year middle hitter Kim Wright redshirted last season because of a torn meniscus.

“I was injured throughout the season as I didn’t have my surgery until November. I would have to get to practice an hour early to do my rehab and would then have to sit out of practice and help the coaches,” Wright said.

Wright said that another player was also injured in the same game and helped her recover while keeping up her morale.

“My teammate, Natalie, also hurt her knee in the same game so I was able to stay motivated with support from someone going through the same injury,” Wright said. “We decided to help in other ways and I tried to be the best teammate possible.”

Wright is now a leader on the court for the ‘Cats, with 119 kills and 23 service aces so far this season. Wright has started in 16 games for the Wildcats this season and has played in 53 sets.

The athletes at Chico State continually prove themselves in practice and in the classroom to earn their time on the field or court and prove that even a bench warmer can become a starter.

Gabriel Moreno can be reached at [email protected] or @GabeSports3 on Twitter.

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