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Seniors reflect on their time as Wildcats

Nicholas Woodard

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Senior outside hitter Alex Shurtz tries to get a dig against Humboldt State in a game Friday. Photo credit: Dan Reidel

As this semester’s sports wrap up for the season, seniors across the board are hanging up their Wildcat jerseys, but not without some reflection on their time at Chico State.

Soccer players Scotie Walker and Octavio Guzman and hoops star Sean Park are three seniors who have become well-known among those who follow Chico State athletics. But it hasn’t always been this way.

All three faced various obstacles along the way.

Guzman had to battle every day competing for a with his teammates and balancing school, he said.

“The competitiveness makes me a better person,” he said. “Makes me a more responsible person. I’ve learned to really take care of business and be a more responsible person.”

Walker had to learn to pick herself up after difficult situations and balance the life of an athlete with that of a college student. But she said she had support from her team, she said.

“Everyone supports everyone here, it’s a huge family,” Walker said.

Park dealt with his challenges early.

Before he began playing college ball, Park loved basketball, but did not put time into honing his skills.

Once he got to college, he realized that it takes hard work to excel. He went to work on his shooting and ball-handling skills.

After recovering from a pair of serious injuries, Park has shown that hard work pays off. In his final year, he leads the team with 21.5 points per game.

“It’s more because I’m experienced, but that goes hand in hand with being a senior,” Park said. “I’ve played a good amount of minutes and gotten my reps in. This is my final season, so I want to play hard and have no regrets.”

All three have been a part of huge moments in Chico State history. Guzman made the All-California Collegiate Athletic Association first team this season. Walker was a sophomore on the soccer team that reached the NCAA Final Four. And Park was a key part of a basketball squad that won the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship.

Whatever the moment may be, all three have done big things for Chico State. And all three have their own interpretation of what it means to be a Wildcat.

For Walker, it meant living through an experience most students never have.

“It means so much, just because not everyone gets an opportunity to wear Chico State across your jersey,” Walker said.

For Park, it meant forging a bond through hard work and dedication.

“The relationship you build with the guys is really special, and something you cherish,” Park said. “My best friends in the world are the guys I’ve lived and played basketball with. I couldn’t think of a better situation for me.”

And Guzman can’t narrow it down to one thing.

“I feel like everything has been great,” he said. “I wouldn’t know how to pick just one moment.”

As their seasons come to an end, each has plans for what’s next.

Guzman may look for a career in exercise physiology but he does has aspirations of becoming a professional, he said.

“I have a tryout with the Sacramento Republic next week,” he said.

Walker plans on going to graduate school after Chico State, and continuing to play soccer whenever she can

Park hopes to be a physical therapist or pursue another career in the realm of sports, possibly in an administrative role.

All three are moving on. But all three will remain a part of a Chico State athletic experience that Walker explains in just two words:

“A privilege.”

 

Nick Woodard can be reached at [email protected] or @nwoodard25 on Twitter.

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Seniors reflect on their time as Wildcats