Why I Chose VCU: Bryce Catlett
Entering high school, I had no idea of what I would want to be when I grew up other than having a dream to play college baseball. The only running that crossed my mind was a quick 90 feet to the next base or the pop fly hit to me in center field. It wasn’t until my parents convinced me to go out for cross country, along with one of my other baseball friends, a week before tryouts that my future changed for the better. It opened my eyes to a true passion of mine and left me fortunate enough to be a student-athlete at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Baseball had a great influence on my life. I grew up in the sport and spent a lot of time on the field since the age of five. I met so many friends and can recall so many memories, both good and bad. It was that time of day where I was able to go enjoy and get away from school and other thoughts. Up through sophomore year, I continued playing baseball both on my travel team and for the high school. I continued running during this time as well. It got to times when I would have to rush from my cross country race in my singlet and running shorts to my baseball game a couple hours later. It was not until the start of junior year when I decided that the opportunities I had were much brighter in spikes and on the rubber track. I concluded my baseball career and focused on running. I became a three-season runner of cross country, indoor and outdoor track. The moments I have been able to experience through high school running and the bonds I have been able to make keep the sport exciting. Not everyone gets to say they have been to multiple state meets through the different seasons. I have been fortunate enough to compete in national races and make friendships that have continued to grow after high school. Although every once in a while I miss getting in the batters box to get the walk-off hit of the game, the enjoyment and passion I was able to find for running makes pursuing this path more than worth it.
After finishing an evening run with my team in the summer of my senior year, I got a call and voicemail from a number that I did not recognize. I listened to the voicemail and it was Coach [Nicole] Cook calling about the cross country and track program at VCU. As the first college coach reaching out to me, Coach Cook really made a big impact on my decision to be a Ram. The dream of being on a Division I college team while getting an education is all I thought about that night until the next day when I gave her a call back. We stayed in touch throughout the summer and into the cross country season. I came down for a visit in late October to officially meet her and see all that the University had to offer.
It was not until my visit that I was able to see VCU firsthand and see everything from Cary Street Gym to the Siegel Center. By the end of my visit, I knew I had found a place that fit me well and where I would be able to focus academically and athletically. Knowing I did not want to be too far from home, it is nice that VCU puts me just over an hour away from my family. Another factor was academics; I intend to study business and VCU’s School of Business allows many different concentrations. These concentrations can help as well as future plans with Masters Degrees in Business Administration and the Sport Leadership program. VCU also has a lot to offer athletes, and I am beyond happy to experience it. The coaching staff pushes everyone on the team and works to make everyone the best they can possibly be. Seeing how the student-athletes are treated here with the support they receive and the continuing growth in the University and fundraising campaign. There are resources found in the training room that you’d never know about along with athletic trainers readily available for you. Another aspect was the team chemistry. Our team is a close-knit group that I am able to run with every day while also being able to hang outside of practice with them.
Since stepping foot on campus in mid-August and officially calling VCU home, I have had all positive experiences and continue to wake up every day excited to learn and grow as a student-athlete. Academically, I have outgoing professors and learning resources everywhere to make myself and every other student at VCU as successful as possible. Athletically, I’ve been able to adjust and develop as an athlete, as well as form bonds with my teammates and coaches that will last more than my time at VCU. I enjoy every day on campus more than the last with all that VCU has to offer. I am grateful I was able to find a home where I can continue my academics and athletics at a high level with such a wonderful coaching staff, teammates, student body, athletes, staff and alumni. Also, it is great to have my family close and always there supporting me through my journey at VCU.