On today’s episode of FalconCast, our host Egan Wolford speaks with three Fitchburg State University student-athletes who share their unique journey through sports, academics, and life to becoming a Falcon at Fitchburg State. Matt, Cole, and Julia offer insights into how they deal with "the pressure" of their sport, what it's like to chase their dreams while maintaining love for their sport, and what it's like to be a Falcon student-athlete.
Matt Aguirre (he/him) is a Junior football player for Fitchburg State University. Hailing all the way from Texas, he is a major motivator on the football team. Julia Gauvin (she/her) is a Sophomore softball player for Fitchburg State University. She never thought she would play in college and now she leads the dominant Falcons softball team. Cole Archambeault (he/him) is a Junior and one of the captains of the Fitchburg State University hockey team. Cole grew up in the neighboring town of Lunenburg, MA and always felt like he might become a Falcon.
Thanks for Listening to FalconCast!
This episode was produced by JJ Catalano, Alan Tadiello, and Egan Wolford, as a part of the Spring 2023 Podcasting class at Fitchburg State University.
Episode transcript available here.
FalconCast (S1 Ep 3): “Sports Dreams”
(Electronic music starts)
EGAN: Welcome to the Falcon cast. This week we're talking to three Fitchburg State athletes, to hear their experiences on how they became Falcons.
We have Matt Aguirre from the football team, Julia Gauvin, from the softball team, and Cole Archambault from the hockey team
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EGAN: Well, you know, I think the school is very stoked that all of you guys made it here. And you're all from very different backgrounds, which is super cool. Um, one thing for me, growing up playing sports is: my relationship with my sport has changed drastically over the course of- what it is it now? 24 years.
I mean, growing up playing I was- I was, you know, I showed up to play hockey and it was just, uh, like trial and error, right? And then ultimately, you thought you were good at i he kept playing, and then you were chasing a dream of going to like the NHL. And ultimately, you know, you don't make that dream. And you end up here at Division Three sports. So how has your guys' relationship with your sport changed over time?
MATT: Man, obviously, the game of football. I love it. I love it, man. I live it every day. And it's tough waking up seven o'clock, five o'clock in the morning, every day, Monday through Friday. Without a doubt, knowing that you have to go back just to get some work in just so you could be better. I mean, obviously, knowing that our record doesn't show it, especially winning one out of 20 games since I've been here. And it's it's tough. It's tough when everyone's like, Hey, you guys are not good man. Like, sorry to cut it to you. Like, you guys are just really bad.
And it's tough coming from Texas. And I mean, just being able to see the different personalities that football brings to the table because coming from Texas, everyone is without it out, live, breathe, die football. Now, being in Massachusetts, I see it a little differently because other people play with different personalities, different egos, and other emotions. And I'm grateful for it. Man, I really think that football is just another way. I mean, even with other sports, it's just another way of life. And it just shows us how much it's related to life. If I'm being honest.
EGAN: It's very true. You know, I know, I know, our football team hasn't done well historically. But you know, the guys that stick with it and continue to show up for that team. It really kind of shows their their love for the sport and their dedication to like growing as athletes and people in general. Now cool. I know, as a hockey player myself that the journey to actually get to college sports is quite a long one and can take you to different places you meet a lot of different people. What has changed from the moment that you stepped on the ice as a kid, to juniors and all the way through to now playing you know, college sports for your second year?
COLE: I would just say that it's a grind. I mean, any sport you can say that for but I mean with hockey, it's It's kind of insane. Like I don't know the exact number, but I'd probably say 80% of college hockey players play juniors, which is one to two years out of high school to develop more just to get to a d3 school, which is tough. I mean, you get kids who are good out of high school, and then they go to a junior league and they don't do well. And then they don't go to college. So it's like you have to be good at every step, just to make it here. So that's what I think I've gained.
This is it's a grind and I correct me if I'm wrong, I met you like probably four years ago in Bismarck, North Dakota at a at a camp. And we were both chasing that dream of playing in the North American Hockey League. So yeah, I mean, you just go to a lot of places and you meet a lot of people and it's it's a grind, you know, you just got to perform at every, every level you're at and it can be wear wear away at you sometimes but you know, just stick with it. But it's something that I mean, gives me a lot more respect for like the higher levels of hockey and any sport for that, for that matter. So
EGAN: And Julia, I, you know, give us a little detail into your journey.
JULIA: So yeah, it always started with a little league, your T ball, Coach pitch, all that type of thing when you're young, and then for my town we did it think it went moved into little league and then my high school is actually seven through 12. So once you went into high school, you went out to JV, but then once you're an eighth grader, you always have the opportunity of making varsity if you prove yourself then that type of thing. So my eighth-grade year of high school, I actually did end up making varsity.
And I played third base all season. I loved it. It was great. I kind of like proved myself because coming in as a little eighth grader, people are like, I'm playing with girls who are probably four or five years older than me. So I was definitely intimidated. But, they were always supportive. So I had a really good high school. Time was softball, and I had the same coach, and then COVID hit, so I didn't get my senior year, which was it happens. So then coming into college, I was kind of like, Oh, crap, like, I like yeah, I've been playing varsity for five, four and a half years. But I'm from a small town, there’s 52 kids in my graduating class like that I really see enough competition to go into the college level.
So then my junior year of high school, I reached out because we, I guess it's kind of the same thing aspect of juniors, but it's just travel ball. So you play every weekend in the summer, I used to go to tournaments, down in Connecticut. And I had to try out for that team. It was up in Sunderland mass, like the Greenfield area. And I came and I tried out. And afterwards the coach was like, when you told me you're from Granby like I didn't expect much. And I was like, Well, I guess I'll take that as a compliment. So then I started playing with them, I excelled really well, I was their shortstop for like all the games.
So then that was a good experience because it moved me from third to short to get more involved. I got like my first career home run. So I started was like, okay, like, I'm not bad. Like, I think I could try and play in college. I was like, I'm like not do one. Like, I really don't think the two like I think I'll be safe with d3. So then from there is when I started contacting coaches, I started just getting like my name out there, like I went through NCSA I don't know if you guys know what that is. But like a recruiting website. I sent them. I sent them a bunch of my videos. And then they put together this whole thing.
And that's how I sent it out to coaches. But yeah, that's pretty much how I got here. So I've been playing my whole life for most of my high school career year round. So that's kind of been live softball forever.
EGAN: And what was your What was your goal? When you first started playing? Like, did you want to play like for team USA or like a like a specific school when you were a kid?
JULIA: Not necessarily. I kind of just always wanted to be able to play. I never had like that huge, like, I want to go to Team USA. I think that's amazing. If I had the opportunity, I would love it. But it was just kind of my mindset, just to if I can keep playing I still want to play for as long as I possibly can.
EGAN: And do you see yourself playing like softball after college? Like, do you see yourself joining like rec leagues?
JULIA: Yeah, for sure. I think I'll do some slow pitch and stuff. Actually, with my base this summer, they invited me to play on their slowpitch team. So I did that sometimes. So maybe that will be my after college with my team out my base. But yeah --
EGAN: Um, my hockey career has recently come to an end. And I immediately jumped into men's league, which is kind of like, my changing my relationship with my sport is I wanted to play in the NHL one day and, and ultimately, there was a point in time where, you know, I realized I wasn't gonna, I wasn't gonna make that leak, you know, I wasn't going to achieve my dream.
I was sitting in a billet house, just a random family that, you know, took me in, and I got cut from the team. And that was kind of the moment where I just had to sit there and really think like, Damn, dude, it's over. But ultimately, it wasn't, you got to keep playing and you got to go play college. So cool. I know that we had probably a similar kind of experience with that. Do you remember when you kind of realized,
COLE: Yeah, no, I, I was trying out not really even trying out. A team in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, Junior A up in Canada, invited me to their pre-draft kind of showcase thing. And so I went I wasn't really expecting much. And I made their main camp, which was more refined. There were probably like 50 kids there. It was only two teams worth. And from there, I made their preseason roster. So I suited up for them for the first two games. Not really expecting much. You know, I obviously was a kid didn't see myself as good as these kids that were out there.
There was like bunch of division one commitments we were playing against and kids our playing major Junior and like it was it was crazy. Just a little kid from Massachusetts going up there and playing. So I was really excited. I had high hopes for that. And then one day that coach brought me into his office. Probably like the week before everyone, like moved in the team was set. And he said, Yeah, we're, we're gonna release. Yeah, we think this kid who was I think that kid was 16 at the time.
Yeah, I took my spot. So that was pretty deflating, but came back to the States and found the team, the New Hampshire Avalanche up in New Hampshire. And that's kind of when my dream ended of playing Division One. So, just kept my nose to the grindstone and ended up here.
EGAN: Why did you keep going, even though you knew you weren't gonna achieve your dream?
COLE: Um, you know, just kind of a pride thing. We've been at this so long, you know, whatever happens, happens, but you know, we all love our game. There's no point to stopping even when I'm done here, I'm going to be playing in men's league. So you know, why not playing college or give it a shot?
EGAN: Right. Now, Texas is probably the most competitive place for football. And, you know, I, I would assume that, you know, everyone talks about division one commitments, and you know, who's a five star four star recruit? What was your experience? Or what were your expectations?
Right? Like, how have those changed from, you know, playing Pop Warner and then into high school and like, like a because it's very dramatic, right, like, you're chasing a super, super, super high expectation like we all are, but I, you know, I related to, you know, I kind of look back at, and I think that I was kind of delusional, almost in a comical way. But, you know, it isn't, because there's a lot of us that, you know, really, really seek that dream. So when did you realize you weren't? You weren't gonna make it, man.
MATT: Honestly, I still live the dream.
EGAN: And rightfully so you should.
MATT: So, so, um, be honest. I'm just gonna start with how it started. So, like, you really basically called my whole life out man, like Pop Warner. I played that when I was what seven. It started when my first coach, really. So we were doing like this little tackling drill. And I was just going so soft. It was just so funny. And this coach got so mad at me, just yelled, bitched at my face, and was like, I don't know, you got me to tears.
And then we did it again. And I did the best tackle I've ever done in my life. So that's one of my dreams kind of really started coming out of high school, obviously, coming from Texas, you want to be the one. So I obviously had my hopes. Texas A&M. God forbid, I was still but we know it's not gonna happen. But coming here now. It's been a different journey. Really. And I want to say when it I don't want to dead and it's never gonna die out. I really think that but obviously, like I said, I'm still going to be playing this game even after this.
But after last year, man. It's just been, it's been difficult, especially just waking up every day to come back just to get better. Because you know, you have to, you have to, you can't stop. You can't just let anybody at work you. Because at the end of the day, when that clock hits zero and you're not on top, it's just it's a different ballgame.
EGAN: Amen, dude. Alright, so, we have one last question. This is the fun question. What is one thing that you've learned that has not been in the classroom? So this could be you know, don't fall asleep with the shoes on or the best time to go to Dhaka or maybe like a service that like really kind of helped you that you want maybe freshmen to kind of know.
For instance, me, there is a tab for or there's a one, it's a downloadable app that you can connect to a school desktop through your Apple laptop from off campus, which makes it crazy easy to use them, like the science software and the biology software, whereas that wouldn't run on Apple. So that would be the one thing that I would say.
MATT: So one thing I would say I hope people find they're willing to put themselves out there is the counseling service.
EGAN: I'll second you on the counseling service. I also go there and they're they're great people so great. Definitely use the counseling service. Here at Fitchburg State, they're awesome people. Cole?
COLE: Don't fall asleep with your shoes on. That's it, man.
No, I'd say time management. That's a big thing, especially your exercise science major and even business-like with sports like you gotta manage your time because tests like you'll have a test at 930 in the morning and then a lab till three and then you have to play a game like that day and it's, it's a lot so you just got to make sure you prioritize your work and make sure you don't go in and do anything, not knowing anything.
So just time management and don't be afraid of the tutoring center. Definitely. I've used that a couple times. So, for some people, there's a bad stigma around it or whatnot, because you might look like an idiot, but you're not an idiot. You just, you're busy. You need extra help. So that's what I would say.
EGAN: Julia, what's one thing that you've learned outside the classroom?
JULIA: I definitely agree with both of them. Time management is a huge thing that I've learned just doing school softball, the Air Force has just been so much. I would say one thing that I've learned with like, the mental side of things is like, you can have so much going on in your plate. And there's, like, you always have someone there for you.
Like I just I've learned that like all my college friends or anyone, like if you go to the counseling services, or maybe even someone at the tutor center will talk to you. It's just like, you're not alone. And there's always someone there that will listen to you will talk to you. And you just have to, like don't be afraid to talk to people, because I think there's always someone there that you can talk to.
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EGAN: Thank you to Matt, Julia, and Cole for showing up on the show this week. We'll see you guys next time.
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