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The Finish Line: Katelyn Arnold

May 15, 2017

"Thank you, Lafayette. I'm not sure where I'll end up, but wherever I do, I know it's because of you."

By Katelyn Arnold '17, Lafayette Field Hockey

 The Finish Line

  The Finish Line, a special section of The Real Deal, is a series of first-person stories written by recently graduated student-athletes, reflecting on their Lafayette experience.

As a Lehigh Valley kid, I had my sights set on anywhere else after I graduated high school. Somewhere in the south. Somewhere warmer.

As anyone who has gone through the recruiting process will tell you—it is stressful. You attend camps and clinics hoping to catch the eye of the college scouts. You’re thinking about how you’re playing, you’re thinking about your body language. It was an exhausting process, and in the summer entering my junior year of high school I was in the thick of it. I had probably driven to Virginia five times that summer. 

Chance would have it that my high school team signed up for a day camp at Lafayette. I recall being incredibly nervous to impress my teammates. I had put a lot of time and effort into improving my play and I knew they expected a lot from me.

Despite spending my entire summer focused on getting recruited, at this camp I was focused on my team. I just played. I didn’t think for a second about the Lafayette coaching staff. 

So it took me by surprise when then-head Coach Andrew Griffiths approached me after the camp and asked me what my GPA was.

Today, I know why that’s the first question a Lafayette coach would ask a potential recruit.

Up until that point, to me, Easton was where the Crayola Factory was. Because the field hockey field wasn’t on-campus, I had never seen it. I still remember walking onto campus on my first tour and wondering, “How did I not know this was here?”

I still sometimes wonder how I lived for seventeen years without knowing such a beautiful place was just 25 miles from my doorstep.

And while the beauty of the campus still catches my attention, Lafayette has become so much more to me than just a stunning vista.

So now, just a few weeks before graduation, as I reflect on my time at Lafayette, I could not be more thankful for the circumstances that led me here.

Sometimes you find your way. And sometimes it finds you.

During my time at Lafayette, often in regards to training, my coaches would say, “if it’s easy, it won’t make you better.” They were right about that for sure. But not just about training.

These last four years at Lafayette challenged me. It was hard. And it made me better. It made me who I am today.

So what is it about Lafayette?

Because it’s not the historic old fraternity houses, the breathtaking quad, or the state-of-the-art facilities that have the power to transform an individual.

It’s the people.

My professors, the administrators, the staff, my coaches, my teammates, my fellow student-athletes, and my fellow students.

That is what Lafayette is. That’s who made me who I am today.

I feel fortunate to have spent the last four years surrounded by what I am convinced must be some of the most intelligent, talented, strong, and impressive people the world has to offer. As a competitive person, they were constantly setting the bar for me. And when you have elite peers setting a standard, it gets you to work pretty hard and you often end up achieving more than you thought you could.

They have pushed me and challenged me—on the field, in the gym, and in the classroom. No matter how late I stayed in the library, I was never alone. No matter how early I went out to practice to get extra touches, someone was there with me. Those people kept me going and kept me striving for something more.

When I consider my closest friends—a future CPA, PhD, Olympian, and soldier—I realize that just being around these types of extraordinary people encouraged me to seek my full potential, to dream big, and to know that the only limitations I have are the ones I place on myself.

I mean, apathy is like a foreign language to them. You do your best and if it’s not good enough, you get better. These were people who were constantly striving to improve. And they made you want to, too.

My entire experience at Lafayette reinforced these ideas. From professors who told us we were capable of changing the world, to my classmates who were constantly searching for ways to make the world a better place. They made me realize I was capable of more than I ever thought I was.

I can’t thank all of these people enough for molding me into the person I’ve become. If it wasn’t for Lafayette bringing us all together, I’m not sure who I’d be today.

At the same time, I am thankful for my coaches who believed in me and made this opportunity possible. You taught me how to self-reflect, determine my strengths and weaknesses, and work tirelessly to improve myself. You taught me to never settle and always made me believe I had more to achieve.

I am thankful for my teammates—the old ones, the new ones, and especially the three who were with me the whole ride.

You pushed me to better myself day-in and day-out, picked me up when I was down, laughed at my jokes even when they didn’t deserve it, and helped us create something very special.


For more first-person accounts from Lafayette student-athletes, check out the Finish Line stories in The Real Deal.

For full coverage of this past weekend's graduation ceremonies, visit the Commencement home page.

I am thankful for my parents, who gave up tickets to see Derek Jeter in his final season to watch me play against UConn, the defending national champions (even though I was a goalkeeper who at the time only had about a game and a half worth of experience). And for my sisters for the support, competition, and encouragement during all of those summer workouts.

Four years later, I understand what an opportunity it has been to attend Lafayette, represent the school on the playing field, and be influenced and inspired by so many remarkable individuals. I realize that so many deserving people never get the chance to have these experiences, so I don’t intend to waste it.

I truly consider it a privilege to have been a Lafayette student-athlete.

Thank you, Lafayette. I’m not sure where I’ll end up, but wherever I do, I know it’s because of you.