Critically Analyzing the National Championship

– image from North Coast Athletic Conference

Two weeks ago, Junior English major, Camila Quiñones traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan with the Wittenberg Women’s Volleyball Team to compete in the NCAA Division III National Championship.  Read on to see how being an English major shaped this experience for her:

On Saturday November 21, two things happened in my life.  One, I turned 21.  And two, I was playing with the Women’s Volleyball Team in the NCAA Division III National Championship.

As an English major, I’ve been taught to dig deeper and search for profound meanings in literature.  What do the eyes of T.J. Eckleberg symbolize in The Great Gatsby or what George Elliot argues about marriage in Middlemarch.  Naturally, these habits transcend into real life, so you can be sure I spent my time at the National Championship analyzing my surroundings, my feelings and emotions.

There were three rounds in the tournament we had to win to become National Champions.  The first two, we won, but the last, the National Championship match, we lost.  So we ended our season as National Runners Up, which is still a pretty amazing accomplishment.  But, in my mind, I searched for the meaning behind the loss.  What was the greatest take away for me, and why was it such?  One the one hand, I wanted to shut off my brain and simply enjoy the experience.  On the other hand, I let my thoughts run rampant, going off on different tangents and analyzing how I reacted to the loss, how my teammates handled it, what parents and friends must have thought, what our behavior in the locker room and bus ride home must have meant etc.  But I don’t really have an answer.  It was like I had just read Charlotte Perkins Gillman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, and I couldn’t attach one central meaning to the ending.  I kept circling around in my head what the answer must be.

On Sunday November 22, the bus pulled up to the HPER center where a group of students, faculty, staff, and parents waited to welcome us home.  And as we walked into the lobby, I continued to ask myself what must this mean?  That’s when I realized.  The one word that stood out to me throughout the whole experience was pride.  Pride for my Volleyball team.  Pride for my athletic department.  Pride for my university.  And pride for my English department.  It’s neat to reflect back on that experience, one most would count as separate from an academic experience, and see how they went hand-in-hand with each other.  I wouldn’t have experienced the National Championship in such a profound, meaningful, and exciting way without my English major.

On the English Department homepage, you’ll find this statement:

Believing that active, engaged learning enriches a love of reading and writing, Wittenberg’s Department of English fosters strong readers and writers who consistently push themselves to pursue truth and seek meaning with integrity, compassion and creativity through critical and creative thinking, analysis, research, and intensive writing opportunities.

And I couldn’t agree more.  Through my studies in the Department of English, I’m able to seek and find profound meaning in all things, academic, athletic, and beyond.

– Camila Quiñones ’17


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