Sophomore nursing student Madison Kindred is a Pioneers Student Ambassador this year. Being a student-athlete representative has been a wonderful experience for Madison, with meeting so many new people within the conference and working to improve the CAL PAC conference. As a member of the Student Athletic Council (SAC), she attends meetings once a month to discuss matters about the schools that want to improve, share what they are proud of, and are in charge of making policies in the conference that will help student-athletes.
How long have you been a student ambassador and how did you get this role?
I have been a SAC member for about a year. J.R. Rogers reached out to me last Spring quarter, asking if I would like to fill the role of representing PUC.
What is the most challenging part about being a student ambassador?
The most challenging part is balancing meetings with my studies. There have been times when school has taken priority over our meetings, but that just means that I read over meeting notes and reach out to the SAC president with any input I may have.
What do you enjoy the most about this role?
What I really enjoy about this role is meeting all the new people from all the schools in the conference. I know at least one person from every school I travel to with my team. There is a sense of family among the members. We all support one another.
What is your favorite thing about being a part of the Pioneers family?
My favorite thing is the feeling of community. Each student-athlete knows of one another here, and it makes for a small but strong community.
What makes PUC Pioneers special?
PUC has gone through some major changes since I have been an athlete here, but our department still continues on and I think that is what makes us special.
Jazlynn Hardy is a sophomore marketing communication major from Florida who plays guard for PUC’s women’s basketball team. Her favorite thing about being a part of the Pioneers family is how they always support each other on and off the court and she is looking forward to growing chemistry with her teammates this season.
What values have you learned by being on the team?
To persevere even when things aren’t looking good because it’s always possible to turn things around with the right mindset.
What are you looking forward to this season?
I’m looking forward to learning more about the game I love and growing chemistry with my teammates.
How do you balance your time between school and sports?
I try to keep a planner to keep myself organized so I make sure I get everything I need to get done throughout my day.
What’s your pregame song?
Anything Lil Baby.
What is your favorite thing about being a part of the Pioneers family?
We always have each other’s back throughout anything, whether on or off the court.
Can you share any advice for high school students interested in being college athletes?
Never stop putting in work, whenever you think you’ve reached your limit push some more and it’s okay to fail and try again.
Who is your favorite athlete?
Probably Kobe because I admire his work ethic and dedication.
(PUC student-athletes Madison Kindred & Nathan Hiss on the far right, second row.)
The Student-Athlete Council Summit is a yearly event hosted by the commissioner of the Cal Pac, where representatives from all Cal Pac schools meet and come up with proposals to make the student-athlete experience better by addressing topics that need changing and revising athletic programs as a school and conference. PUC athletes Madison Kindred (women’s volleyball) and Nathan Hiss (cross country) were chosen to represent our college athletes amongst 10 of the 13 Cal Pac schools at this year’s summit to form the 2022-2023 Student Athlete Council at Cal Maritime in Vallejo.
As SAC representatives, Madison and Nathan’s responsibilities are to ensure that the Cal Pac is responsive to the needs of PUC athletes and resolve the many issues student-athletes face. By doing so, they attended various meetings discussing leadership, emphasizing making a lasting impact on their school’s athletic department and those enrolled in the Cal Pac and NAIA. They met other representatives, participated in team activities, attended a speech by Admiral Copper, and worked closely with the commissioner to create plans and goals for each school. “Our goal at the university level is to represent student-athletes and work with administration to solve the issues that arise throughout the school year and implement lasting solutions,” said Nathan.
Out of all the sessions, the one topic that stood out to Nathan and Madison was mental health and how they can better support student-athletes by addressing their mental health needs. “This stood out the most because it was a universal problem across the schools represented at the summit. This is important to cover because of the extra stress added to athletes throughout their education and athletic careers,” shares Madison. Nathan added, “This topic was deemed as top priority in our council as each school’s athletics department has suffered from struggles arising from mental health.”
From what Madison and Nathan learned from the summit, they both will take action to create a SAC at PUC composed of members from each sport and meet throughout the year to resolve team and department issues and become leaders on our campus.
Coming from Talladega, Alabama, is PUC’s Men’s Soccer manager, Santiago Hernandez. Majoring in Religion, with an emphasis in Health Professions, school keeps him busy but that didn’t stop him from becoming interested in his position as soccer manager. Santiago knew he wanted to help coaches be ready during practices and be a part of the journey of creating a better team, sharing great memories, and making new friends through soccer.
Tell us about being a team manager. What does a typical day on the job look like?
Being a team manager has been fun. If there are 2 practices in a day, there is a morning session (2 hours) and then an evening session (2 hours). Some morning sessions are used for soccer athletes to be in the weight room for strength and conditioning for approximately 1 hour, and then the second hour of the session is used for futsal (indoor soccer). The general typical day on the job, if the sessions are at the soccer field, then I arrive at work 30 minutes before the session starts to set up for practices. I bring the mannequins, ball bags, training pinnies, cones, and fill up the water jug in order to ensure soccer athletes can stay hydrated while at practice. During practice, I may help with some of the training drills, or maybe standing behind the goals and collecting any balls that may go past the goal in order to make sure no ball is lost and to make sure there is always plenty for practice. Once practices have ended, I stay approximately an extra 30 minutes to clean up, put all the training gear back into the storage room and pick up any trash that may be around the field.
Can you share some examples of how you keep your athletes motivated during the season?
One of the things I do most is follow up on the athletes throughout the season, that may be once a week, or once every 2 weeks. I will have conversations with them and ask how they feel, after game day, talk to them and ask how they were feeling during the game, and just find ways to improve. I feel that by talking and listening to them, it keeps them motivated cause it shows that I care and support them. I may give them advice at times, not only that may be needed for the game, but also for life. Another way to keep them motivated is to ask them what goals or objectives they want to accomplish for each game, and for the season. Letting them know that if they need my help with anything is also another way to keep them motivated as I remind them of the goals each individual wants to accomplish and merging that with the team goals.
What is your favorite thing about being team manager?
Being a part of this journey, helping create a better program, and being able to enjoy great experiences with the team.
What do you like most about being part of the Pioneers family?
The diversity of the Pioneers family is one of the things I like most. Seeing different people of different backgrounds, and just coming together not just as a team, but becoming a family is one of the things that excites me most and knowing that each member of this family is willing to work excites me and makes me have a desire to work harder everyday.
What advice do you have for someone interested in being a team manager? What skills are needed?
An advice I would give someone if he or she is interested in being a team manager is to be willing to work everyday. Do more than what you are expected to do. Some skills that are needed would be a strong work ethic, punctuality, willingness to possibly do extra work, good communication skills with coaching staff and athletes, and I think it’s better as a team manager to know how to play the sport so you can help athletes if they need extra help outside of practice hours
What are the values of your team?
Some of the values my team has is that they are determined, passionate, eager to win, and have a great work ethic.
Coming from Hebron, KY. is shooting guard Olivia Crigler. She represents our women’s basketball team and feels extremely lucky to live in Napa Valley, where she can continue her passion for basketball while also- pursuing her love for photography. Being given the opportunity to have the best of both worlds has made Olivia’s experience at PUC so much more enjoyable.
What drew you to PUC athletics over another college?
PUC was a breath of fresh air. The environment, faculty, and student body were all welcoming and genuine. It was a huge move for me to come across the country. I had never been to the state of California other than my visit to PUC in high school. The campus felt like home, and I am extremely lucky to be able to say I live in Napa Valley. Also, since PUC is liberal arts, they have my major, photography. That can be hard to find at other schools. I felt wanted by the basketball program and coaching staff when I was recruited. This was extremely important for me because basketball has always been such a huge part of my life.
Walk us through a typical team practice.
Typically, we have a good warm-up routine that includes stretching, shooting, and some sort of full-court drills to warm us up. With the season coming up we have been focusing on learning our defense, plays, press, etc. Scrimmaging is also an important aspect in practice so we can simulate games like speed and situations. We also have daily weightlifting to further prep our bodies for games. In pre-season (before the start of school), we were focusing a lot on conditioning to get into shape and skill work. With the season starting this month it’s time to take all of that and put it together.
What are the core values of your team?
This year the women’s team has a lot of fresh faces from the coaching staff to the roster as well. A big focal point that is expressed every day is the importance of hard work. “Nothing is given”, our coach says. We want to be the hardest working team in the conference. Another large core value is the importance of being a “family”. We are with one another every day and to be a successful team we have to play and work together.
What is your favorite part about being part of your team?
College basketball was always my biggest goal growing up. My dad played and coached college and he always told me playing college basketball were some of his greatest memories in life. I am so grateful to be able and have the ability to play my sport. Being on the PUC basketball team I enjoyed my college experience so much more. Being a college athlete is a very different experience than a non-athlete. We are given opportunities to represent our school, travel, compete, and make lifelong friendships with our teammates.
How do you balance your time between school and sports?
I would say this is the hardest part about being a student-athlete. With Covid taking away our season last year, there was so much time to focus on schoolwork. Now with a regular season, we have to balance homework, class, labs, etc. with all our practices, conditioning, weightlifting, games, travel, etc. It can be a lot. I think the thing that works for me is planning my schedule every day and making sure I hold myself accountable every day. I compare my class schedule with practices and games and pick the time I need to complete all of my work. Also, eating healthy and maintaining a good sleep schedule is crucial for excelling in the classroom and on the court. Schoolwork and basketball are my priority here at PUC.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in being a student-athlete?
If you are interested in playing college, love your sport, and dedicate yourself. That is what will drive you to be successful. Being a student-athlete has its challenges, but I believe it prepares you extremely well for life after college. It requires a lot of dedication and hard work, but the payoff is worth it if you love what you are doing.
What is your favorite thing about being a part of the Pioneers family?
The best part about being a part of the Pioneers family is when the community supports us. With the addition of the Pioneer Posse, the athletes have been given chances to get involved with the student body and gain support for our season. Being a small school, support from the school at our games boosts us. PUC also gives the most support academically to athletes than I have seen anywhere else. They want to see the athletes succeed academically and athletically.
Do you have a favorite athlete? If so, who and why?
My favorite basketball players are Steph Curry and Larry Bird. As a three-point shooter, how could I not look up to Steph Curry? He has completely changed the game of shooting and inspires me to get better and push my shooting ability even further. My favorite pro basketball team is the Celtics. My dad is a fan, so I grew up watching their games. Larry Bird is a legend from the program and one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
What are other things you are passionate about?
My biggest hobbies outside of basketball are photography and different mediums of art. I have pages to post my photography work and also different art projects I do in my free time. PUC has actually given me a lot of different opportunities for both. I have been taking senior photos of PUC students, local families, and couples in the Napa Valley, and I photograph for a clothing business in downtown Napa. After college I would love to play overseas basketball for a few years, afterward being a travel writer and photographer or a sports photographer would be the ultimate dream.
Whenever I tell people I will be graduating from Pacific Union College, 90 percent of the time they have no idea as to its whereabouts. Coming from a highly populated city and high school, to joining the Pioneers was a major transition and adjustment for me. Not only was it in a city that barely had 4,000 people but it was on a hill. It is also a private Christian-based college affiliated with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. I was born and raised in a city in Southern California and went to a high school with over 2,000 students. Can you imagine the hallways! Seeing how I have played sports all my life and continued by playing on PUC’s women’s volleyball team, I feel like that made my transition into such a small college a whole lot easier.
Sports and sports teams even are full of diversity. In a sense so is PUC. This is one of the major reasons why I was probably able to adapt to the college when got up here. I already had the skill set to meet new people and create bonds by getting to know people and hang out with them. It also made it easier because when you join a team you meet a lot of people from different backgrounds you automatically have something in common with—playing sports!
Another reason why being an athlete helped me with my transition was because I was faced with adversity before I even got to college. Nothing and nowhere is perfect so you are always going to face obstacles and challenges. I played multiple sports as a child and was on two sports teams in high school so I was dealing with a variety of personalities. Because of PUC’s diverse population, I encountered numerous amounts of individuals from all over the world. These students came from a list of backgrounds and all were unique in their own way.
All in all, I feel being an athlete all my life was beneficial towards my transition into becoming a student-athlete here at PUC. I can sincerely say that the skills you learn and develop when you are on a team or in a teamwork environment not only build your confidence but are everlasting and will definitely help you with future endeavors.
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.
Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams at PUC made serious impacts on and off the court this past year. One player, Jenna Peña, has dedicated her summer to helping out with NBA point guard, Stephen Curry’s summer youth camps.
Jenna was kind enough to answer a few short questions about her incredible experience.
PUC Pioneer Jenna Peña with the NBA MVP and Champion Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors during the Stephen Curry Overnight Camp.
How long have you been working the camp?
I have been working with the Warriors for a year now, and I work with the youth basketball camps to teach the fundamentals of basketball.
Where are the camps held?
They are held all over the Bay Area. It’s really a great experience to work with the kids on their game, but also teach other values off the court.
What are some of the values that are taught to the kids involved in the camp?
We are there to provide the campers with both a positive and competitive atmosphere on and off the court. We emphasize the importance of hard work and a team-oriented mindset. We want the campers to bring out the best in themselves, which translates into everyone encouraging each other.
How is Stephen with the campers?
Steph is amazing! He is great with the campers he plays basketball with them, has meals with them and is genuinely a man of God. It truly is a blessing to see a NBA superstar so humble and with a strong connection with Christ.
For a look inside the camp, check out the video below.