Senior Night is a special night that only happens once in an athlete’s career. It is a chance to honor as well as reflect on the work and journey that these athletes have been through during their college careers. Some may be continuing their careers with professional sports teams, others move on to coaching and some move on with their employment. Regardless of what these athletes choose to do after their time at California Baptist University, it was certainly a night the swimmers would never forget — especially facing off against CBU rival GCU in what has shaped up to be a thrilling and memorable Senior Night.
Senior Night wasn’t just meaningful for the seniors but also for Associate Head Swim Coach Jim Bossert, who also swam for CBU at one point in his college career. Having a coach who understands a player’s needs, especially one who went through the same program, provides a unique perspective and is a testament to the coaching staff’s dedication to providing their players the best chance of success.
“I know what they are going through with academics, I know what they’re going through with time management, struggling with their faith, struggling with finding who God is, and finding how much God has an impact on their life,” Bossert said. “I understand those struggles ‘cause I went through those struggles here.”
This program has combined competition with faith, as the team always strives for something bigger themselves, both in and out of the game, especially with the changes the program has undergone from DII to DI.
“I think the seniors are going to leave an overarching legacy that these seniors have helped us transition into the Division I era. They came in the probation era. You couldn’t go to the national championships. We were in that weird limbo in that transition from Division II to Division I, so these athletes have really ushered in that Division I mentality into the program,” Bossert said.
Paul Rasoumoff, senior majoring in chemical engineering, talked about what competing at CBU has meant to him, and how he was able to express his faith openly.
“Seeing others build their faith and push themselves on days when there is no motivation has helped me push myself,” Rasoumoff said. “It has encouraged me to wear my faith proudly. Talking about my beliefs and being public about my faith on the team has made me more confident in talking about my faith to friends and strangers in hopes of spreading the gospel. Both coaches and teammates have encouraged me to dive deeper and grow my relationship with Jesus Christ. They have given me so much to be grateful for.”
The culture of the team has changed much during this time as well, especially with how the team supports one another, something that Rasoumoff and many other seniors on the team have helped to drive forward, with Rasoumoff saying, “There is more cohesion between the team, including the men’s and women’s teams. With that cohesion, there is more team pride than ever before. We are the Lancers now, not just a group of swimmers. We all want this team to succeed and are all doing our part for one another.”
While they may be graduating soon, the season is far from over, as the team is still on its journey to greatness especially considering CBU and GCU will face off against one another in the future. The camaraderie that swimmers share, however, is what helps to make this experience so special.
Faith Brazil, a graduate student getting her master’s in business administration, spoke on this shared fellowship.
“No one really talks about how hard taking a fifth year is mentally and physically, so by the time senior day [happened] I was just glad to be there,” Brazil said. “It was also pouring rain, so I thought it was really sweet and funny that all my friends and family stayed and got soaked. I know that GCU is such a big rival, but honestly, we are all so close with each other. The camaraderie within swim is one of the biggest reasons why I love the sport. After every race, we always shake hands, and if it is your buddy, you hug it out. There is never any rivalry. So honestly, it was good to see them again before we face off at conference.”
The team also competed together during the COVID-19 era and faced unique challenges compared to teams of the past. The team’s challenge’s during lockdown reflect the growth each swimmer faced as individuals when they had to navigate such a difficult season.
“I came in during the peak of COVID so there needed to be more team bonding and more going on. Competitions were virtual, so motivation to compete took a lot of work and was hard to get and maintain,” said Cody Meyer, senior accounting major. “After COVID, the team was huge due to all the seniors getting an extra eligibility year, and we had in-person competitions, so there was a lot more motivation, team activities, etc.”
The team’s care and dedication for one another, especially during such an unprecedented global event. This mentality extends to the up-and-coming swimmers on the team as well, with Brazil offering a piece of advice to the younger swimmers on the team.
“When you come to college, the sport that you loved your whole life becomes a job. You work 20 hours a week, and if you work hard enough, you hopefully can get paid. This can take a lot of the joy out of the sport you once loved and bring forth a lot of unnecessary pressure. If I could leave anything to my teammates, it is not to take everything too seriously and have fun. Constantly finding joy in practice and swim meets is something I hope I left behind for my team,” Brazil said.
While these seniors’ time is coming to an end, the relationships and memories they have made will always .
“The love of Christ and the love of their coaches is always going to be there,” Bossert said.