Everyone comes to college for a purpose, whether it’s trying to find their true identity, being the first family member accepted to college or being a part of a sports team to hopefully one day become a professional athlete.

Many students either commute or travel long distances to start their lives at Keene State College, but three of these athletes have stood out and made a case for themselves and for their respected sports at Keene State. Sophia Freese, Taylor Jean Bright and Riley Bunker, who have especially traveled a long distance to play their respected sports, made themselves feel right at home here at KSC.

Diving into the pool is Minnesota native Sophia Freese. Freese, a first year student at KSC, discovered that Keene State was the perfect school for her as she strides as a student-athlete swimmer.

“It certainly wasn’t easy making the transition to travel a long way from home to go to school,” Freese said.  “I wanted to follow [in] my father’s footsteps as he always went to school in New England. My family also lives out here and we find that New England is very beautiful.”

George Amaru / Art Director

George Amaru / Art Director

Freese was also not the only family member to attend college in the New England area. Freese’s father graduated from Castleton State in Vermont. “It takes a lot of hard work and determination and time management to be a student athlete,” Freese said.

“I now have the ability to be on my own and do my own thing to find out who I really want to be in life,” she added.

The Minnesota native wants to make a positive impact on her own identity and especially give her own hometown a positive identity.

Freese, who resides in Minnetonka, Minnesota, attended Minnetonka High School and participated in the 100 breaststroke all four years of her high school career.

Freese hopes to win an NCAA championship during her next three years as a swimmer at KSC and to make her home state of Minnesota proud.

Moving further west, Taylor Jean Bright is a 20-year-old sophomore from Folsom, California.

Bright is a transfer student who originally attended American River College.

Bright said she has adjusted accordingly to the campus life, and the New England weather during her first year at KSC.

“Outside of volleyball it was hard at first to make friends on campus, the major I have [athletic training] a lot of the people within the major already know each other and have gotten close to each other,” Bright said, “Being a  part of the volleyball team, they are like my sisters, I am very glad to be a  part of this team.” When chatting about how beautiful the weather always is in California, Bright went on to say, “I love the seasons, I was getting sick and tired of the heat and hadn’t gotten to experience the beautiful transition of seasons in New England.” Bright chuckled at the thought of December in New England.

When asked why Keene State was the school for her, Bright said, “This school had a purpose to me. The small schools I enjoy a lot, as this one stood out the most to me. It had integrity and purpose that [made me] realize this was the school for me.”

Taylor said she plans to stick around to finish her college career at Keene State.

George Amaru / Art Director

George Amaru / Art Director

As a right side hitter, bright’s numbers show she has been a good asset to Owls as she averages 27 minutes on the floor and her  kill per set is at  0.81. She hopes to use her volleyball skills in college to one day teach others the game and coach her own volleyball team in the near future.

Riley Bunker, also a native of California, made a case for herself as a distant athlete at KSC. Like Bright, Bunker said she has felt right at home in New England.

She said, “Being here for college doesn’t feel any different than at home. It stinks not being able to go home and see my family, but the people here, my friends here make me feel right at home.”

Bunker has a killer spike as a libero with 95 overall sets as a first-year player for the Owls. Bunker shares the same amount of minutes [27] with Bright as these two are a dynamic duo.

These three athletes have found their new home and now have the opportunity to make their own identity, to find a reason as to why Keene State College is their new home away from home.

Adam can be contacted at abuskey@kscequinox.com

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