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ALUMNI FEATURE: Catching Up With... Shawna Chopko

ALUMNI FEATURE: Catching Up With... Shawna Chopko

Have you ever had that thought of, "Remember that time when so-and-so did that unbelievable thing for the Wildcats?" Or, "remember when so-and-so had that outstanding season when they were at Wilmington?"

Well we in Wilmington Athletics plan on catching up with all those former athletes and their stories each week as Athletics Alumni Liaison Dan Burke and the athletics department has created a Throwback Thursday, "Catching Up With".

Thursday, December 13, 2018:

Shawna Chopko – Women's Lacrosse – 2017:

Shawna Chopko was a four-year player for the Wildcats after transferring in from Temple where she played a season of field hockey. She was a tough nosed defender her first three years before playing more of an offensive role as a senior. She started 45 games in her career and ranks eighth all-time in program history with 97 career ground balls.

During her senior season, she scored 17 goals and added a pair of assists, adding 31 ground balls to earn Second Team All-CACC. She recorded a career best 32 ground balls during her sophomore season.

Q&A:

  1. What have you been up to since graduation? What career field are you in?
    1. Since graduating in May of 2017, I have traveled, lived at the beach, and started to pursue my career. Currently, I am working for an investment firm, Vanguard (pictured), in Wayne, Pa. I also coach field hockey and lacrosse for a neighboring high school, Caravel Academy.
  2. What is your favorite part about your career?
    1. I chose the financial industry because numbers have always been "my thing". I have a passion for rules and legislature so I have interest in furthering my financial career in Compliance. In regards to coaching, I chose it because I think it is very important for us as former student-athletes to give back to our communities and today's youth, especially young women. I love encouraging my athletes to always live their best lives and to see their worth on and off the field.
  3. How did your experience at WilmU as a student-athlete prepare you for your career?
    1. My experience at WilmU has shaped me to become the leader that I am today. I live for the challenges and adversities at work because I know I have what it takes to have an impact. In high school, I never anticipated on playing lacrosse in college because my focus was always on field hockey. I committed to play D1 at Temple and put all my efforts into that. When I decided to leave Temple and come home to Newark, I felt as though my career as an athlete was over. I searched around for colleges and programs and came across the WilmU website. I sent an email to the head coach, and the rest is history! It was the best decision I could have possibly made for myself.
  4. What was your favorite part of being a student-athlete at WilmU?
    1. The meal money!! Just kidding. My favorite part of being a WilmU athlete was the relationships I built with the faculty and fellow student-athletes. I created long lasting friendships and memories that I will always cherish.
  5. What advice would you like to give to current student-athletes at WilmU?
    1. My best advice would be to take it all seriously. I would advise against taking any of it for granted because your time in college will go by so fast. I would also ask you to be thankful that you have a body that allows you to wake up every day and play a sport at a collegiate level.

Thursday, December 6, 2018:

Chelsea Botsch – Softball – 2015:

Chelsea Botsch was a four-year pitcher for the Wildcats' softball team, but finished off her career with a bang with an outstanding senior season in 2015. She went 19-7 as a senior, throwing 10 complete game shutouts to finish with 179 strikeouts in 174.1 innings pitched and a 1.61 ERA. She helped leas the Wildcats to a 34-18 overall record and an at-large into the NCAA East Regional Tournament, pitching all 15 innings of an incredible bout with Adelphi.

During her senior season, Botsch helped the Wildcats to a span 10 straight shutouts, as the team went 66.1 consecutive innings without allowing a run. Although the team stretch ended, she continued her personal shutout streak to 52.1 consecutive scoreless innings, including eight straight complete game shutouts. She was a First Team All-CACC pitcher in 2015, consensus First Team All-Region player, and the second Wildcat to earn All-American in program history, earning Daktronics Honorable Mention.

Q&A:

  1. What have you been up to since graduation? What career field are you in?
    1. Since graduating in 2015, I've started law school at West Virginia University College of Law. I'm now in my third and final year and will graduate this coming May. I'm a member of the West Virginia Law Review, the WVU College of Law United States Supreme Court Clinic, and the West Virginia Innocence Project.
  2. What is your favorite part about your career?
    1. There are many different things I like about my future career in law. I love how this is a field that allows me to continue to learn something new every day, or could handle a complete different subject matter from one day to the next. The work is a continuously new and constant challenge. I also love the competitive nature of being an attorney. As a current member of the West Virginia Innocence Project, I love the opportunity to make a significant difference in the live of those that have been wrongfully convicted and need help proving their innocence. Regardless of the direction my career takes following graduation, I hope to continue to help those in need during arguable one of the most difficult times of their lives.
  3. How did your experience at WilmU as a student-athlete prepare you for your career?
    1. My experience at WilmU as a student-athlete helped prepare me for my career by introducing me to the reality of prioritizing and handling a busy schedule. Managing practices, workouts, and games, in addition to a class schedule and the work that comes with it was a valuable experience that not all get the opportunity to take advantage of before entering the "real world".
  4. What was your favorite part of being a student-athlete at WilmU?
    1. My favorite part of being a student-athlete at WilmU was the chance to play the sport I loved at a competitive level. Reaching new levels of accomplishments as a team was an amazing experience.
  5. What advice would you like to give to current student-athletes at WilmU?
    1. The advice I'd like to give to current student-athletes at WilmU would be to take advantage of every opportunity that becomes available. Not just athletic opportunities, but those that will reach beyond the field for years to come. During the four years as a student-athlete, it's easy to allow yourself to become too focused on the day-to-day complaints that come from being up early to practice and staying up late to finish papers. Recognizing the opportunities when they arise is important, especially in an environment such as WilmU, where there are so many people that truly want the best for each student-athlete and are willing to do so much to help and support their athletic careers, education, and futures.

Thursday, November 29, 2018:

Lance Berry – Men's Soccer – 2015:

Lance Berry didn't need to travel far to come to Wilmington University in 2012. After a successful high school at Caravel Academy, Lance became a Wildcat and it was hard to pull him off the field in his four years. He was the hardnosed player that every teammate wanted to play with, but hated to play against. In the end, he left his mark with the program, being named a D2CCA Second Team All-American as a senior in 2015.

A two-time All-CACC performer, Lance is currently second all-time in program history with 29 goals, scoring 15 during his senior season. He is also tied for third overall with 20 career assists, setting a new program record with 14 during his senior season. His 78 career points are second all-time in program history. He also helped the Wildcats to its first ever NCAA East Regional Tournament victory as a sophomore in 2013, heading home a corner in the second overtime against Post for the 2-1 victory.

Q&A:

  1. What have you been up to since graduation? What career field are you in?
    1. Since graduating, I have remained local and have been teaching and coaching. I am currently a fourth grade teacher at McVey Elementary in Newark. I am also coaching the boys varsity soccer team at Appoquinimink High School and I coach at Coastal Atlantic Futbol Club where I have the U18 girls and U16 boys teams.
  2. What is your favorite part about your career?
    1. My favorite part about my career is having such a big influence on today's youth. The relationship between a teacher and a student could make all the difference in a child's life. I also enjoy having relationships with the athletes. Playing soccer my whole life, I know what kind of impact a coach can have on an athlete.
  3. How did your experience at WilmU as a student-athlete prepare you for your career?
    1. My experience at WilmU Prepared me for my career path because I was put into situations and had to deal with adversity while becoming a young man. Nowadays when I am hit with adversity, I am able to stay calm and relaxed, and focus on what needs to be done.
  4. What was your favorite part of being a student-athlete at WilmU?
    1. My favorite part of being a student-athlete was the relationship I built in those four years. They are relationships and friendships that will be around forever. WilmU introduced me to a lot of my best friends today. Putting on that jersey every day is a close second, however.
  5. What advice would you like to give to current student-athletes at WilmU?
    1. I would tell student-athletes to enjoy the time with teammates and friends. Your time at WilmU will go way quicker than you think and it will be missed once you're no longer a part of it.
    2.  I'm sorry, Lance, but I coudln't pass up the opportunity to post your freshman year headshot!

Thursday, November 15, 2018:

Amelia Simmons – Women's Basketball – 2010:

Amelia Simmons was the face of the Wilmington University women's basketball four years, and left with her name all over the program's record book. She is the all-time leading scorer in the NCAA era, scoring 2,267 career points, nearly 500 more points than any other Wildcat since 2004. She is a four-time All-CACC honoree, including being the only Major Award winner in program history, winning the CACC Rookie of the Year award in 2006-07 and the CACC Player of the Year award in 2009-10.

She became the program's only All-American during her senior campaign, scoring 21.8 points per game (a program record 609 points) while grabbing 9.6 rebounds a contest. She helped lead the Wildcats to CACC Tournament Championship match in 2008-09 and an appearance in the CACC Tournament all four years. Her career scoring average of 19.4 points per game is nearly three points more than any other Wildcat in program history.

Q&A:

  1. What have you been up to since graduation? What career field are you in?
    1. Since I graduated from WilmU I have continued to play basketball at the professional level. So far, I've played in the top leagues in Germany, Greece, and Malta. I have also been able to coach at the youth level in these various countries.
  2. What is your favorite part about your career?
    1. My favorite part about my career is exploring many European countries, learning their customs, traveling to various cities, tasting native foods, and learning the language. The list goes on!
  3. How did your experience at WilmU as a student-athlete prepare you for your career?
    1. My experience as a student-athlete at WilmU taught me accountability and commitment. Not only to the University, but to my coaches and my teammates. WilmU has prepared me to be committed to team goals, how I trained, and lastly commitment as it pertains to others (fans, community, and the trainers).
  4. What was your favorite part about being a student-athlete at WilmU?
    1. My favorite part of being a student-athlete at WilmU is the family atmosphere and the love and continuous support from every coach regardless of sport. The faculty and support is by far the best part!
  5. What advice would you like to give to current student-athletes at WilmU?
    1. The best advice I give and express to everyone is "to enjoy the moment!" it's a privilege to be a Division II athlete! Don't take anything for granted. Your time at WilmU will go so fast so give it your absolute all. Even when I think back to my career at WilmU, there are some regrettable moments where I could have gven a bit more. Regret is by far the worse feeling so enjoy your coaches and teammates, and soak in every moment!

Thursday, November 8, 2018:

Ashley Mundy – Cheerleading – 2008:

Ashley Mundy came to Wilmington as an undergrad and has not left the University! She has been a major part of the Cheerleading success on campus, first being a member of the team and then joining the coaching staff while helping the team to seven consecutive UCA Division II Small Coed National Championships! She also worked as a manager of the baseball team while an undergrad.

She is currently in her third year as the head coach of the Cheerleading program, after being an assistant under then head coach Jeff Martino. The cheerleaders perform at Homecoming, during all basketball home games, and at events throughout the community all year long, all building up to Nationals in January.

Q&A:

  1. What have you been up to since graduation? What career field are you in?
    1. Before graduating, I started working part-time at Wilmington and never left! After graduating in 2008, I went full-time and now I'm the Executive Offices Manager in the Office of the President and the liaison to the Board of Trustees. I also jumped right back into cheerleading as an assistant coach and now I'm in my 10th season with WilmU, third as the head coach.
  2. What is your favorite part about your career?
    1. I love working at a place that has been such a huge part of my life! I love my job and the people I get to work with every day. With coaching, I get to use everything I've learned and experienced and share that with my team to help them be successful both now and in the future. Winning is pretty awesome too… we've won seven straight National Championships and working toward number eight this January!
  3. How did your experience at WilmU as a student-athlete prepare you for your career?
    1. Going from being a student to an employee at the University was a pretty easy transition. I went into my job knowing so much about the University and knew that I wanted to help students.
  4. What was you favorite part of being a student-athlete at WilmU?
    1. My favorite parts of being a student-athlete were all of the friendships and memories that I made along the way. I met some of my best friends at WilmU and my husband of six years, Mike Mundy, who played baseball!
  5. What advice would you like to give to current student-athlete at WilmU?
    1. The advice that I would give to current student-athlete is to work hard and give it your all now, because this isn't going to last forever. I would also tell them to have fun and enjoy it because these will be some of the best times of your life – I know it was for me!

Thursday, November 1, 2018:

Corye Payton – Men's Basketball – 2012:

Corye Payton burst onto the scene as a senior during the 2011-12 season, the final season played at the Pratt Student Center. He became the first men's basketball player to earn First Team All-CACC in the NCAA era. He finished second in the CACC in scoring in his senior season, averaging 18.1 points per game while averaging 19.8 points per game in CACC play to lead the league.

Payton played two seasons at Wilmington, averaging 14.9 points per game in 51 games played (758 career points) and 4.5 rebounds (228 career rebounds) per contest. He put in a career best 30 points as a senior against Felician.

Q & A:

  1. What have you been up to since graduation? What career field are you in?
    1. After my time at WilmU in 2012, I signed my first professional contract to play basketball in Europe. Since then, I've been able to travel the world, playing professionally on five different continents. I also got married, started a family, and brought them along with me on the journey. This past year, I decided to take a leap (off the court) and start my own E-commerce business. Like basketball, its been a journey and its also been an amazing experience overall.
  2. What is your favorite part about your career?
    1. Day-to-day progress has always been my favorite part about my career. Whether it's been staying in the gym to get an extra 300 shots after practice, or analyzing hours of data to improve my business, the "process" is what I've always loved.
  3. How did you experience at WilmU as a student-athlete prepare you for your career?
    1. Being a student-athlete can be both challenging and rewarding. WilmU forced me to become better at managing my time. With so much going on in the classroom, in the gym, back at home, etc., I had no other choice but to become more self-disciplined. After seeing positive results from taking these actions, I carried them over into my professional career as well.
  4. What was your favorite part of being a student-athlete at WilmU?
    1. As a student-athlete at WilmU, I grew to like the small college atmosphere. Classrooms felt more personable, plus our gym would get so loud because it could easily reach max capacity.
  5. What advice would you like to give to current student-athletes at WilmU?
    1. Be present in the moment. You have an opportunity that most could only dream of. Take advantage of it and have no regrets.
      1. Decide what YOU want to get out of your student-athlete experience.
      2. Write down your goals
      3. Write down the actions it will take (do's and don'ts) to reach those goals

Take action Thursday, October 25, 2018:

Brittany Biddle – Volleyball – 2013:

Brittany Biddle was a four-time All-CACC performer for head coach Kim Huggins-Habbert, finishing off her career as a First Team All-CACC middle in 2013. She led her teams to 20 or more wins in all four seasons, totaling 93 wins and a 63-13 record in CACC play. The 2012 team finished with a program record 28 wins, going 28-6 overall, 18-1 in CACC play, winning the CACC South Division before falling in the CACC Tournament Championship match.

Biddle played in 126 matches in her four-year career, and currently ranks third in program history with 354 total blocks. She is third in program history with 104 solo blocks while also ranking fifth all-time with 250 block assists. Her 10 block assists at Concord on September 1, 2012 still stand as a single-match program record. She was also 2012 Capital One Academic All-American Third Team honoree.

Q & A:

  1. What have you been up to since graduation? What career field are you in?
    1. Since graduation, I accepted a job as a full-time middle school special education teacher in the areas of math and science. I am also a volleyball coach for the Ursuline Academy Raiders, a middle school drama choreographer, and a middle school softball coach! I have been up for Teacher of the Year for two consecutive years and recently got married to another former Wildcat student-athlete, Andrew Corrigan (men's basketball)!
  2. What is your favorite part about your career?
    1. I love getting to work with students every day and watch them push through challenges. Some days are rough, but then there is always that one 'ah ha' moment that makes it all worth it!
  3. How did your experience at WilmU As a student-athlete prepare you for your career?
    1. Being a student-athlete at WilmU was one of the greatest experiences I have had yet! The coaches and staff at Wilmington taught me how to manage time, difficult situations, and how to use the support staffs around to help when I am in need. Just as much as WilmU gives to its athletes, it instills in those same athletes to give back and continue perusing their goals!
  4. What was your favorite part of being a student-athlete at WilmU?
    1. My favorite part of being a student-athlete was definitely the big rivalry games. There was nothing better than having a packed gym for a huge game or going to watch the other teams in playoffs! The memories and camaraderie were the best. The relationships you build with your teammates and other student-athletes on campus have left a lasting impression and connects you for life. Also spending hours in Erin Harvey's office eating her food, laughing, and learning all of the incredibly hard work she does to keep student-athletes afloat during their time!
  5. What advice would you like to give to current student-athletes at WilmU?
    1. Cherish every moment on or off your designated playing area. The skills you learn as an athlete directly correlate to the real world. Be thankful that you get to wake up and be part of something bigger. You are someone's superstar, act like it! Finally, realize what you do now has an impact on your life. Every job interview will ask you about teamwork and collaboration and there is no better school that prepares you for those questions than WilmU. GO CATS!

Thursday, October 18, 2018:

Jason Rust – Baseball – 2007

Jason Rust had a record-breaking season for the head coach Brian August in his only season as a Wildcat. His record 21 home runs in 2007 still stands not only as the programs single season record, but also as the career home run record. He once hit for the "home run cycle" in a game, hitting a grand slam, a three-run homer, a two-run homer, and a solo homer, finishing 5-for-5 with 10 RBI against USciences on April 11, 2007.

He also became the athletics' department first ever All-American and First Team All-American in the NCAA era (which dates to the start of the 2004-05 season). Rust batted .360 (63-for-175) with 12 doubles, and single season program records of 21 home runs, 62 RBI, and a .789 slugging percentage.

Q & A:

  1. What have you been up to since graduation? What career field are you in?
    1. Since graduation, I was fortunate to have two awesome children (Sophia, 10, and Braxton, 3) and have recently been married. I am currently in my 11th year of my career in education. I am a behavior interventionist at an alternative program in Sussex County (Delaware) called S.C.O.P.E. I also started my own landscaping company called "Rusty Cuts".
  2. What is you favorite part about your career?
    1. My favorite part of my job is being able to interact and help the "At-Risk Youth" that our program endures. To see a majority of these young individuals turn their lives around for the better is gratifying.
  3. How did your experience at WilmU as a student-athlete prepare you for your career?
    1. Expectations were high in the classroom and certainly on the baseball diamond. Being pushing by Coach Aug (Brian August) has certainly played a major role into how I've prepared myself for my career. When someone of his stature speaks, people have a tendency to listen and value what is being said.
  4. What was your favorite part of being a student-athlete at WilmU?
    1. The accelerated courses that Wilmington offers enabled me to stack up on credits. Along with the relationships built with the professors made it that much easier to get what I needed done without any hassles.
    2. Winning the (CACC) Tournament and helping my team enter our first ever East Regional Tournament was very satisfying for me. There are some individual accomplishments that I'm proud of, but our team success was the ultimate goal.
  5. What advice would you like to give to current student-athletes at WilmU?
    1. Push yourself in the classroom as well as on your sport's playing field. You do not want to look back and say, "I wish I would have done something differently". The opportunity is in front of you now. Take full advantage of it.