Senior athletes say goodbye

Every year, thousands of student-athletes play in the final game of their athletic career. For most of them, this means letting go of the sport that has been a large part of their identity for so long.

But the memories of being an athlete and the lessons they learned along the way will remain with them as they continue into their future.

Several student-athletes that finished their final season at Oakland this year are now headed to continue their education or start a career.

The future is bright for these Grizzlies, and although they no longer represent the university as an athlete, they will still represent it as a student or a graduate, which is equally as honorable.


Sara Cupp transferred to Oakland from University of Detroit-Mercy for her final season of eligibility this year. Being a student-athlete has taught her discipline, timeliness and teamwork. She plans on finding a nursing job after graduation, finishing courses to take the MCAT and going to medical school.

To my team and coaches: “I’m very thankful for the chance that they gave me and how much they welcomed me onto the team. I’ve had a great time with everyone on the team and even if we hit some rough patches, we were able to make it through and become stronger in the end. I know that the friendships that I’ve made here will last a lifetime and I’m forever thankful for that.”


Amy Carlton played on the women’s basketball team for five years. Being a student-athlete taught her time management and teamwork skills. She graduated from Oakland in 2014 and is in her first year of the DPT program. She is returning to the team to serve as a graduate assistant next season.

To my team and coaches: “Thanks for an amazing five years. You are all the reason I come into practice every day smiling. Growing up with all brothers, it’s nice to come out of college with sisters. To my coaches: Thanks for all the incredible opportunities. I have learned so much and will never forget all the experiences along the way. Looking forward to working with you all next year.”


Kyla Kellermann played on the women’s soccer team for four years. Being a student-athlete has taught her the value and power of teamwork. She plans on returning to Oakland to get her master’s in public administration while serving as a graduate assistant in the International Students and Scholars Office on campus.

To my team and coaches: “I am beyond grateful for being part of team which has become family. Knowing I have the unconditional support and friendship of over thirty girls as a result of this experience will be something I am always thankful for. I want to thank my coaches for the opportunity and my teammates for all the ways they made this experience memorable.”


Theresa Elder played on the tennis team for one year. She plans on attending medical school at Michigan State University. Being a student-athlete has taught her how important every individual is to the success of a team, not just on the scoreboard, but also in motivating and bringing out the best in other teammates.

To my team and coaches: “Thank you for everything you’ve done, on and off the court. You’ve helped me not only in developing my weaknesses, but in knowing my strengths and giving me confidence. I’ve learned so much from my teammates and am so thankful for every one of them.”


Marianna Stepp played on the women’s golf team for four years. She plans on working for TelNet Worldwide in Auburn Hills and participating in a few summer golf tournaments. Being a student-athlete has taught her integrity, discovery, accountability, excellence, respect and service.

To my team and coaches: “Don’t waste time worrying over things you can’t control the outcome of. Always lead by example and have compassion for others. Be bold. Be different. Be you.”


Taylor Humm played on the volleyball team for four years. She plans on returning to Oakland for the MBA program and working full-time as a manufacturing engineer in the manufacturing leadership development program at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Being a student-athlete has taught her to define who she is based on her character, sincerity and personality.

To my team and coaches: “I hope that they already know this, but you guys have impacted my life in a huge way. There will never be a day that I’ll forget how special my four years were as a golden grizzly on the volleyball team. I truly appreciate all of the hard work, dedication and effort everyone put into this program to make it such a fun and inviting place to be, my home away from home, with a very “large and in charge” loving family.”

Track and Field

David Koponen was a member of the track team for four years. He plans on working for a scout base over summer and going to Paraguay for sustainability work in the Peace Corps if he is accepted. Being a student-athlete has taught him how to manage time and stress, and how to work and train in a team atmosphere.

To my team and coaches: “They have been a vital part of my experience at OU. Keep up the good work.”


Kyra Rietveld was a member of the swim team for four years. She plans on attending the University of Florida for the art history graduate program. Being a student-athlete has taught her that you have to put in the effort and work to reach your goals, and what you get out of something is all about what you put into it.

To my team and coaches: “My teammates and coaches gave me a new family and I cannot thank them enough for that. Knowing that a group of 40 people have your back no matter what and will always support you is the best feeling. They helped me grow as a person and showed me what it’s like to push your abilities to the limit.”


Matthew Delang played on the soccer team for four years. He plans on attending Duke University to pursue a doctor of physical therapy. Being a student-athlete has helped prepare him for a career in sports medicine by offering him insight into athlete’s minds, and he values the advantage he’ll have from his personal experiences.

To my team and coaches: “Four years of memories and inside jokes can’t be expressed in just a few sentences, but there’s no atmosphere in the world like that locker room. We are a family, and I want to thank all of the guys for an incredible journey.”


Mario Rusnak was a member of the swim team for four years. Being a student-athlete has taught him leadership, teamwork and time management skills. He plans on attending graduate school to get his master’s degree in exercise science and pursue a career as a cardiovascular rehabilitation specialist.

To my team and coaches: “You didn’t get to choose your teammates, which makes them your family.”