Blake Warner ‘15, Women’s Soccer

Geosciences Field Camp - Nepal

One of the requirements of a PLU Giosciences major is to complete a field camp. These students are known to attended field camps all over the world, as was the case with women’s soccer midfielder Blake Warner. Blake chose to take the journey to Nepal this past summer to complete this requirement. Below she answers questions about her experience and what she took from it.

Describe a typical day on your trip.

Over the seven weeks of my trip, I spent my time in many different ways because of the multiple courses I took during the study abroad session. The first three weeks were spent waking up at 6:30am and hiking all day while stopping to record geological observations along the Kali Ghandaki Valley. The next two weeks were spent climbing and assessing landslides. The final weeks were spent collecting data and creating a field study project.  

Why did you choose Nepal and what was the most rewarding experience during your time there?

I wanted to study in Nepal because my life goal is to see the world and this opportunity lined up with where I am in my life right now. I was able to complete my field camp and see a new country. The most rewarding part of this experience was meeting and learning from the Nepali students and professors. 

Can you pinpoint one highlight of the trip?

The highlight of this trip for me was getting to spend time outdoors walking through the Himalayas. There is something magical about the grandness of the mountains and the inexplicable feeling you get being disconnected from society. This was made special because most days it was cloudy, but one day the skies were clear and the Annapurna Mountain Range was in full view and witnessing that with my classmates was indescribable. Outside of studying, we visited many historical and religious sites. Learning more about the Nepali culture was fascinating because it is so different from my own. 

How has this experience prepared you for life after college?

This experience has given me the tools to be independent in order to be confident in traveling on my own, assimilating to foreign cultures and working in groups with people I have just met.

Luke Martinson, Men’s Soccer ‘16

Adventure Soccer – Swaziland, Africa

Men’s soccer student-athlete Luke Martinson took a 27-day trip to Swaziland, Africa this summer with the organization Adventure Soccer. Adventure Soccer hosts soccer camps in multiple Pacific Northwest locations with all the proceeds used to fund programs for children in Swaziland who have been orphaned or negatively impacted by the deadly HIV/AIDS virus. His trip involved coaching soccer camps and repairing the Sandra Lee Centre orphanage in Mbana, South Africa. Below, Martinson discusses the details of his trip.

What is Adventure Soccer and how did you become a part of it?

Adventure Soccer was started by Matt Raney, the father of one of my friend’s from high school and the JV soccer coach at Snohomish High School. Matt started the organization in 2003 with the intention of reaching people with the message of hope through the game of soccer.

Describe your journey and the highlights of your trip.

Working: Including the seven members of the Raney family, our travel group totaled 15 people. We flew into Johannesburg, South Africa and made our way to Mbane (where we we’re staying) by bus. The bus ride was incredible; it all became surreal being able to see the African culture around us. The cities were industrial, but really dirty. Outside of the city areas were the more poverty stricken and run down parts of the country which including Swaziland. Once we arrived, we spent our time coaching soccer camps and building and repairing the Sandra Lee Centre orphanage. The Sandra Lee Centre was opened by Michael and Robin Pratt, two missionaries that have been living in the area for 25 years. Working with the kids was an amazing experience. They were always smiling and having fun.

Playing tourist: We had one free day where we spent our time exploring the local area. We went to a candle shop, which had the most amazing hand crafted candles as well as a glass shop where we could actually watch Swazi’s blow glass. We also went to the Green Mile, which consisted of about 100 shops all packed together in one big circle where we could buy an assortment of items from hand made wooden salad bowls and salad spoons to artwork to bracelets and necklaces.

What was the most memorable part of your trip?

Every day was memorable, but if I had to choose, it would be either playing with the kids at the Sandra Lee Centre or running the two soccer camps we held in Mahlabeneni and Sipopheneni. It was an incredible opportunity to teach the kids the game that I love and have learned so much from. It was a great learning experience as I had to step out of my comfort zone, including talking to most of the kids through a translator, which was really hard to get used to. Another highlight was playing three soccer games against some of the locals as well as an organized men’s team in the area. We went undefeated. Overall, it was an indescribable feeling witnessing a different culture and being a part of it for my 27-day trip.


Kaetlynn Brown, Volleyball ‘18

Daffodil Princess

Who knew that there was a Princess in our midst? A Daffodil Princess that is. In February 2014, freshman volleyball player Kaetlynn Brown was crowned as one of 24 Daffodil Princesses in conjunction with Pierce County’s annual Daffodil Festival. During her tenure, Brown happily served her local community and strengthened her leadership skills. Below, she answers some questions about her royal experience.

How did this opportunity come about and what was the process like?

Around August of my senior year of high school, I received a letter saying that I was eligible to run. I attended an informational meeting where the 2013 Princess shared her experience and it was then that I decided this was something I wanted to do. I began attending Sunday night meetings for about six weeks in preparation for the selection event. The night of our selection, contestants were asked to give a one minute speech surrounding the Festival’s theme of “Ready, Set, Grow” in addition to answering an impromptu question. Judging took just over an hour followed by the 2013 Princess giving her farewell speech prior to crowning her successor. Out of the ten contestants, I was announced as the winner much to my disbelief.

What was the highlight of being a princess?

Being a Daffodil Princess in itself was the highlight, but one memory I will always cherish is an afternoon where we went to a Boys and Girls Club in Tacoma. All the princesses were greeted with cheers of excitement and full sprints as the children ran toward us when we arrived, giving us hugs and tugging us in all directions. The children looked up to us and it was honestly the most fulfilling and heartwarming thing to know that I was a role model to them. Words can’t do that feeling justice. A large part of this experience focused on serving the community, which showed me that there’s more to life than just worrying about yourself.

What were the largest takeaways from the Daffodil Princess experience?

Time management was definitely a skill that I learned from participating in this program. I had to juggle school, time with my friends and family, Daffodil responsibilities, extracurricular activities and work. Being a Princess definitely made me more aware of my time and how I spent it. It also provided me with an appreciation for serving others and being an active member of my community.

I am also appreciative for the relationships I built with my 23 fellow Daffodil Princesses and my mentors along the way. When I made the PLU volleyball team, the first thing I did was called someone from my Daffodil family to share the exciting news because they were so actively involved in my live.

Check out Kaetlynn in action in the Seafair Parade:

Brian Ruggles ’16, Swimming

Summer Job: Ride Operator at Cedar Point Amusement Park (Ohio)

What’s it like to work as a Roller Coaster Operator?
"Working here is incredible because very few people get to say that a 420ft coaster is literally their office. The guests make it fun too. I enjoy interacting with them and helping calm them down before the ride. Also, because I’m a coaster nerd, watching the trains launching from 0 to 120mph in under four seconds will never get old!" 

How does this job connect to your major?
"Being a physics major, I’m able to apply my knowledge to a lot of the coasters. The physics and engineering of getting a Top Thrill Dragster train over the hill (almost) every time is mind blowing. Once in a while, the trains won’t make it over the hill. Many things can cause this, such as a sudden change in weather or temperature, or even a difference in the masses of the trains. There are so many variables that go into each launch, and that definitely complicates the calculations."

What’s your favorite part about working at Cedar Point?
"I’m finally at the place I’ve been dreaming about my entire life. There are giant world record breaking coasters all around which makes for spectacular scenery and I’m able to ride them whenever I’m not working (and trust me, I do). Many of the other employees here are just as passionate about roller coasters as I am so it’s amazing to have people to talk to who share this same passion."

Erik Thornquist ’15, Men’s Soccer

Summer Internship: Software Engineer at Topia Technology

How has being an athlete influenced your work at Topia?
“I’ve learned that making mistakes is part of the game and we won’t always win. I’ve learned to push through that, learn from my mistakes, and improve so that if a new problem arises I will be able to solve it. It’s the process of understanding what went wrong and how to fix it that will help me become a better athlete as well as a better intern.”

What are some valuable takeaways that you’ve received from Topia so far?
“The mentoring that my supervisors have given me at Topia has really helped me learn. They always give me different situations that might occur or perspectives to think about when trying to solve a problem or test something. They challenge me and allow me to struggle through problems, which has not only helped me learn but has also given me the confidence that I need in order to solve similar problems in the future.”

How is this internship comparable to your work on the soccer field?
“Being on a sports team has really helped me at this internship because I am part of a team at Topia. Playing on a soccer team at PLU is very similar because we must work together to accomplish a goal when playing on the field. On the field it takes a lot of communication and unified teamwork. At Topia we must also work together using these same skills in order to accomplish our goals.”

Chris Bishop ’15, Baseball

Summer Position: Pitcher for the Corvallis Knights (West Coast League)

What do you enjoy most about this opportunity?
"I’m so grateful for the opportunity to play one more day. The number of times you get to put a jersey on and compete at a high level is limited, and knowing that has made me more and more thankful for this opportunity. My favorite part about playing in Corvallis is definitely the atmosphere and the community. We have a great deal of support at every home game averaging close to 1,000 fans per game."

What have you learned on this team that you can bring back to your PLU team?
"Playing with the Knights has really taught me to appreciate baseball for what it is and take the failures that come with the game with a grain of salt. Everybody fails in baseball, but the difference between great teams and great players is the ability to recover from those mistakes. I think the chance to watch a game everyday and observe what others do has helped me learn the most."

What’s something really unique about your team?
"Something really unique about the Knights is that we don’t usually practice at all before our first games. The first time a majority of us meet is a couple hours before the first game in the dugout. Also, the chance to meet guys from all over the country is really unique in the fact that I wouldn’t have the chance to meet a lot of these guys if it wasn’t for this league and the Knights organization."

Ariana Judson ’15, Volleyball
imageSummer Job: YMCA Camp Counselor

What’s one of your favorite things about working at the Y?
“I love that we’re not only helping the kids all day, but we basically get to be kids too. I mean, how many people can say that they get to be outside, doing art projects and playing games for their job? Day Camp also has an amazing staff and I always look forward to seeing the kids’ bright and innocent smiles.”

How has being a “Lute” helped you work with the kids? 
“As a Lute, my ability to adapt is continually developing. During my time at the Y, I have realized that this ability to adapt is essential to being a successful Day Camp Counselor. Especially when working with younger kids, you cannot always follow the schedule perfectly. In order to provide the campers with the best experience possible, you have to be able to step off the perfectly planned path and roll with whatever is thrown at you.”

What are some skills you carry over from being an athlete to a counselor?
“As an athlete, knowing the importance of teamwork and communication has helped with this position so much. Even though each counselor is in charge of their own group of kids, we are also counselors to every single kid attending. Along with that, communication is key. We all have to communicate with one another so that camp runs smoothly. We are one big team, and if we didn’t communicate or pull together and help one another when needed, then camp would not be the success that it is.” 

Rachael Nelson ‘15, Swimming
Summer Job: Intern at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
What’s one thing you look forward to everyday? 
"Seeing new experiments every day is what I most look forward to. The scientists in my lab are doing so many experiments whether they’re working with HIV, West Nile virus, or HSV so I am bound to observe something new each day." 
How does this position compare to being a member of the swim team?
"Something that I wasn’t expecting to see at Fred Hutch was the cooperation between the different scientists. Multiple researchers will help with a particular part of an experiment and it may not even be their experiment. This shows the importance of cooperation and support in a team setting. Being able to rely on and help out your teammates reinforces the family quality of our swim team. Any member of the swim team knows that their teammates are there for support or help, it’s the same at Fred Hutch."   
How has being an athlete helped you in this position?
"With swimming, I’ve learned that putting in the time and hard work is at the core of being successful. The same is true with research. On any given day when an experiment is going on, a researcher may need to be in the lab from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. to finish everything. Having learned this with swimming, I’ve been able to apply it to the research lab on difficult days, knowing that it is necessary for the best results."

Joe Rayburn ’14, Men’s Soccerimage


Summer Job: Professional Soccer Player for the Kitsap Pumas
What’s it like playing for the Kitsap Pumas? 
“It doesn’t really feel like work at all because I’m getting paid to play the sport that I love. Never have I once been given money to play a sport before and here I’m just enjoying my time with a bunch of cool guys from all over the world doing what we love to do.”
How has PLU helped you prepare you for being a pro soccer player? 
 “I would say that my student-athlete experience at PLU has helped prepare me for the soccer experience at Kitsap. I have had great coaching and player development that most keepers don’t find at the collegiate level, let alone Division III. Playing soccer at PLU has really helped me sharpen my game over the past four years so that I am able to compete with some of the best players in the region.”  
What’s one of your favorite things about playing on this team? 
“The best part about Kitsap for me is the level of competition. We are 4th division USA Professional (below the MLS) and as a result we see a lot of players who have potential to move up to the highest ranks in American soccer. There are a lot of players who have eclectic playing backgrounds too and bring unique experiences to the table.”
 Tanner Bogart ‘16, PLU Baseball


Summer Job: Assistant Coach for the Columbia River High School JV Baseball Team
What’s your favorite part about being a coach? 
"I am most excited to be around the game I love so much and give back to what made me a better player. Also, I’m excited to see how the kids do and to watch how they grow and mature in the game.” 
What makes this experience so unique?
"This job is unique because it challenges me to slow the game down and teach it rather than just play it. I take what I’ve learned and do what I can to make these kids be better than when they first started out with me."   
How has coaching helped you academically?
"This position forces me to be time oriented. I have a schedule to follow to make sure my team is prepared and ready for game day, which is like my "homework". As a coach, I also have to know who to put on the field that will help get the win."