Times are difficult and that is a fact. But even in the midst of a global pandemic, our student athletes are finding ways to be good “teammates” to our surrounding communities.
Members of our women’s volleyball team made the decision to volunteer at the COVID-19 testing site in Yountville, Calif. These ladies didn’t just help at the mobile clinic, they also passed out food, toiletries, and various personal health items to families in need. Overcoming challenges and working as a team are part of an athlete’s everyday life so it was no surprise to see the selflessness of our Pioneers. These incredible young people lead our athletics department by shining their light “all around the neighborhood.”
The #PUCPioneersNation has really stepped up and shown they are proudly part of the larger Napa Valley community. Though we are more than ready to have all our students back on campus and regain a sense of normalcy, we are blessed to give back in as many ways as possible because that IS the Pioneers way!
Lydia is a sophomore opposite hitter in her first season with the PUC Pioneers women’s volleyball team. Born and raised in Kailua, Hawaii, Lydia attended Hawaiian Mission Academy where she graduated top of her class. She was the perfect combination of scholastics, leadership, and service to be awarded the 2016 Maxwell Scholar Award. “Receiving PUC’s Maxwell Scholarship has been a huge blessing for myself and my family,” she says.
Since her time at PUC, she has declared her major as health communication, was appointed president of the campus mission club Thaumatrope, became a student ambassador for the enrollment office, and befriended many PUC students. “I’ve really enjoyed my time here at PUC. I’ve made such wonderful friends that support me in everything I do. Managing academics, athletics, my social life, and all other things I’m involved in has been difficult but there is nothing I would change or do differently,” she enthuses.
Lydia’s academic achievements also have translated on the volleyball court. Lydia played four years of varsity volleyball at HMA earning division 1st team award as well as being the captain of her team, all the while playing volleyball for Kealahou Volleyball Club. Her volleyball influence comes from watching her older brother playing volleyball.
At the time of this writing, halfway through the PUC volleyball season, she has appeared in 23 games with 14 kills and has become a crowd favorite during home games. With Lydia’s influence within the PUC student body, there are many students who come out to support the Lady Pioneers. “Our fans are really important to us. It feels great to play knowing the sidelines are there to support and cheer us on. The energy from the crowd helps give us the energy we need on the court,” she says.
There are still several home games left in the Lady Pioneers’ season, so come on down to the Covered Wagon to cheer on Lydia and the rest of the Pioneers! The next home game is scheduled for Tuesday, October 24th, at 6 p.m. against William Jessup University. Visit pioneersathletics.com for a complete season schedule.
You can catch Kwuan Guerrero shooting hoops down at the Pacific Auditorium (PUC’s gym), playing Super Smash Bros., or applying literary theory to different texts. Guerrero, who is graduating this coming weekend with a bachelor’s in English education, began his basketball career at PUC the summer of 2014-2015. His mind was set on two things during his time at the college: The first endeavor he set out to achieve was his degree in English education, and his second goal was to be a powerful force on the Pioneers men’s basketball team.
Guerrero, who has received many athletic awards, began his basketball career at the age of 14. He fell in love with the sport and the technicalities behind it, and the team effort and team chemistry that needed to exist to be successful. His God-gifted height of 6”5 also helped make it possible for him to succeed in the sport. During his freshman year in high school at Hawthorne High School in Southern California, he averaged eight points a game. After three years, he transferred to Price High School, where he played his senior year. It was his passion and love for the game that drove him to play at the college level.
When asked what influenced him to play basketball, Guerrero says, “I liked the challenge of getting better at things. Basketball helped me build the ability to stay focused, especially on my grades.”
His basketball career carried on when he entered college. He first played for Fresno City College, where he viewed himself as an “under the radar player.” After playing a couple of seasonal games, Guerrero caught a huge break when Greg Rahn, the men’s basketball coach at PUC, approached him with an offer to play for the Pioneers. After some deliberation and negotiation, Guerrero signed on to the Pioneers basketball team.
Although the limelight was yet to be on him, Guerrero worked on his craft, dedicating hours in and out of the gym, going into each workout circuit with intensity and making sure he kept a clean diet. During his senior year at PUC, he had to opportunity to be one of the five starters for the team. Soon, he began to showcase his natural strength playing as a power forward and a center. He began topping the stats, being one of the only players to average the most points, rebounds, and assists in each game. Guerrero helped lead the Pioneers to win the Cal Pac championship in February.
One of Guerrero’s greatest memories as a Pioneer is winning the Cal Pac championship. He said, “Experiencing such a moment with my teammates was one of the best feelings.” He is also thankful he was able to mentally grow as an individual and player this year.
The week leading up to the championship, Guerrero was named the Cal Pac Player of the Week due to his stats and dedication to the team. He helped lead the Pioneers to victory against UC Merced and Cal Maritime, averaging 15.5 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 70.5 percent from the field and 87.5 percent from the free throw line. Guerrero finished that week with a career high of 25 points and five rebounds against the Cal Maritime Keelhaulers. These wins placed the Pioneers in the third seed in the Cal Pac tournament, which they would go on to win.
Guerrero became a PUC Pioneer star, but he still remains a genuinely humble individual. He hopes to become a high school English teacher, and he is open to the idea of eventually becoming a college professor. He is also open to coaching for a high school team with the hopes of eventually becoming a head coach of a high school team.
In addition to succeeding on the court and in class, Guerrero also succeeded in making PUC his second home, “It’s like I’ve gotten so used to being here at PUC that when I go home, I miss it,” he says.
We offer our heartfelt congratulations to Kwuan and all the graduating seniors. We wish each and every one success and God’s richest blessings!
Meet Alexis Lyers, a senior who hails from Upper Marlboro, Md., and plays on the Pioneers women’s basketball team as a guard. We asked her to share about her experiences at PUC this past year, on and off the court.
What’s your major?
I am a communication major.
What’s your favorite class at PUC?
My favorite class at PUC is interpersonal communication. You get to learn so many interesting things about relationship and how people interact with each other on a daily basis. It’s super interesting!
Who is your favorite teacher at PUC?
I would have to say just about all the professors in the department of communication. I can’t choose one but they are all so great and so helpful not only in the classroom but also outside of it.
What made you decide to play for the Pioneers?
I’ve been playing basketball since I was 5-years-old. I’m originally from Maryland and one day I just decided I wanted to travel to the west coast and play basketball. At the time I wasn’t sure where, but after some research and lots of prayers I found PUC and loved the environment and my teammates.
What’s the best thing about being on the team?
I think the best thing about being on the team are my teammates and building relationships while playing a sport you love. I have so much fun with my teammates; we absolutely love each other on and off the court. It’s really amazing to connect with people on a personal level from all different parts of the country and all different walks of life.
Is it hard to balance being a student and an athlete?
Balancing school and being an athlete is extremely hard. You have a commitment to both to do well in school and perform well on the court and that’s not including practices, missing classes due to games, and homework.
What’s something you learned about yourself while playing this year?
This year I learned I can be a really good leader and role model on and off the court. I’m usually a person who runs away from the leader role and just hangs in the background, but I found out how good of a leader I am through my teammates. I also learned leading transpires off the court, when my teammates come to me for life advice or just someone to talk to.
What’s your favorite memory from this season?
My favorite memory from this year was coming back from being down 12 points to beat La Sierra University on senior night in front of my family and friends. I just remember my teammates all rushing to me after the game because we were all so happy.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself working for an NFL or NBA team doing public relations or marketing work.