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Showing Up Committed In and Outside the Classroom Matters as a Purple Raider

February 05, 2024

By Fatima Magana '22

ALLIANCE- Growing up in a household where your dad or siblings played sports sets the path you will follow in the future – regardless of the sport, you will probably become an athlete. Playing a sport provides you with a discipline and a skillset that is useful on and off the field. However, being a female and an athlete presents greater differences for women in athletics.

Commemorating National Girls and Women in Sports Day on February 7, The University of Mount Union celebrates its Purple Raider female athletes who show up resilient and dedicate tireless hours of practice to their respective sports.

McKayla Dunkle ’26, management and marketing double major, has been playing basketball since the sixth grade and has been around Mount Union since the eighth grade. Playing basketball and visiting Mount Union’s beautiful campus played a role when deciding where to go to college for Dunkle.

“I play center, and being a female athlete has given me the self-confidence to better my skills after each game while disregarding any judgments due to being a woman in sports,” said Dunkle.

Dunkle '26 focused on her game

Acknowledging that women experience differences in the sports industry because of their gender, Dunkle explains that basketball has taught her the importance of hard work and time management skills, which she applies daily in all aspects of her life – academic, personal, and professional.

“My experience as a female athlete has inspired me to help other girls aspiring to play a sport, giving them the same confidence my coach has given me,” said Dunkle. “Watching Coach [Suzy] Venet be involved in basketball after being an athlete herself gives me the confidence to one day follow in her footsteps."

Bella Lasecki ’26, sport business and marketing double major, is a member of Mount Union’s women’s track and field team. Choosing Mount Union was an easy choice, as her dad, David Lasecki ’91, was a football player as an undergraduate student. Therefore, hearing him speak highly about the campus and academic programs made Lasecki’s choice unquestionable.

“I run in short sprints events, which are 60, 100, and 200-meter races,” said Lasecki. “Being a student-athlete not only has allowed me to become acquainted with the sports industry but enhance my skillset on and off the track field.”

Lasecki '26 at a track meet

Lasecki, who has been running track since grade school is grateful for the athletic and professional development opportunities she has received at Mount Union. Overseeing Mount Union’s track and field teams’ social media accounts, Lasecki records and edits their pictures and videos, explaining that this experience is helping her build her résumé.

“Being a female athlete has taught me how to cope with my mental health, acknowledging that mental health problems do not make a person weak but rather enhance your communication skills,” said Lasecki. “I want to help other girls aspiring to be an athlete by supporting them, letting them know that it’s okay to speak about their feelings and teach them the importance of appreciating small achievements.”

Daedae Nash ’25, physical education major, runs track and is the point guard for the Purple Raider women's basketball team. As a basketball player, Nash's drive has given her the confidence to do anything to which she sets her mind.

"I've been playing basketball since the sixth grade and running track since the seventh grade," said Nash. "As a point guard, I handle the ball the most, leading the game like another coach, but on the court."

Nash '25 committed to the game

Nash explains that she has gained communication and leadership skills through basketball which she applies in her personal and professional lives daily. Thanks to her involvement at Mount Union, Nash has built a skillset that will help her succeed after graduation.

"I would tell younger girls to have confidence in themselves as well as make good decisions," said Nash. "If my coach were to describe me, she'd say that I am hard working, energetic, and a leader."

Makayla Sitzlar '26, primary education major and member of the women's track team at Mount Union has been involved in the sports industry since high school as she not only ran track but also played volleyball and basketball.

"Initially, when looking at college, I did not want to go away from home, but Mount Union's track coach reached out to my trainer asking if I'd like to visit the campus," said Sitzlar.

Makayla Sitzlar

Sitzlar '26 doing what she loves

Though afraid of studying away from home, Sitzlar toured Mount Union, met with the track coach and members of the team, liked the education program, and decided to further her collegiate and athletic career as a Purple Raider. She has learned the importance of taking a break to evaluate her work and better her skills.

"As I throw shot put and outdoor discus, I've noticed that there are not many spectators at female athletic events," said Makayla. "I want that to change, I want to offer my support to younger girls so that they have someone to look up to and pursue their athletic dreams."

Congratulations to every woman in the sports industry and to our Purple Raiders who show up to succeed on and off the field and court with dedication to their future! Learn more about women's athletics at Mount Union, here.