Hello and happy Feature Friday! This week I'm highlighting Megan Ulland, former Soccer and Lacrosse player at Carleton College. Carleton is a NCAA Division III school known for it's incredibly strong academics and competitive athletic programs. As a goalie, Megan was a Captain of the soccer team her senior year and held multiple records by the time she graduated, including shutouts per season and saves per game percentage. To this day, she still holds the record for saves per season. Megan has wonderful insights to share about her experiences playing collegiate sports and how it's impacted her life. Read on!
GamePlan: If you could sum up your college athletic experience in one word, what would it be? Megan: Formative
GamePlan: What is a lesson you learned while playing college athletics?
Megan: What lesson didn't I learn? Time management, responsibility, accountability, resilience.
GamePlan: What is one of the hardest moments you had to get through while playing college sports, and how did you get through it?
Megan: I think one of the hardest moments I had to get through while playing soccer (at Carleton soccer was varsity, lacrosse was club), was the NCAA tournament my junior year. We were on the brink of making it to the tournament and it would have been my first time. Despite an amazing season, we missed it by one spot. As a goalkeeper, I blamed myself. It was really hard not to do that. We all were devastated. But we also knew most of us had one more year to achieve our goals. I got through it by leaning on my teammates. I got through it by getting up each morning and setting goals for training so that on the next game day, I'd be at my best.
GamePlan: What is one of the hardest moments you had to get through while going through the recruiting process?
Megan: I think the hardest moment for me going through the recruiting process was refocusing my goals after a coach walked away from the process. She left the college I had fallen in love with and for whom I wanted to play soccer. At the time it felt like my world was crashing down around me. But looking back on it, it gave me the opportunity to reevaluate what my priorities for college were - and ultimately brought me to an amazing college.
GamePlan: What is your favorite memory from playing college sports?
Megan: Being on campus for the 2+ weeks of preseason prior to the rest of the students arriving each fall. The athletes ruled campus and had so much fun - we trained hard and played hard. The football team and women's soccer team had a tradition of trickery and it was fun to see what each team's captains would think up next.
GamePlan: What advice do you have for student-athletes who are trying to play at the collegiate level?
Megan: Be coachable. Work hard. Take your classes seriously. It is amazing to be able to play a sport in college, but eventually, you will need your degree, too.
GamePlan: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything? If so, what would you do differently?
Megan: I loved being a collegiate athlete. I would have trained even harder to reach our team goals of the NCAA tournament.
GamePlan: What are you up to now?
Megan: After graduating with a BA in biology, I worked as a forensic scientist specializing in human genetics for the state crime lab for a number of years. When my husband and I decided to move east for his MBA at Dartmouth, I ran a professor's biological sciences research lab for two years. My teams and I have published multiple scientific papers. In the middle of our time in Hanover, our daughter was born. Our son was born shortly after we left Dartmouth and since then, I have enjoyed staying home with the kids and managing their activities. I volunteer in our son's elementary school, and I am the team manager for his hockey team. I am on the board of the youth lacrosse program in our city and I coach for the girls U14 team. I am also a club soccer U13 girls' coach for our travel club and hold both US Soccer and US Lacrosse coaching licenses. In between all of the sporting events I coach or watch (son in hockey, football and lacrosse and daughter in soccer, lacrosse and ski racing), we travel as often as we can. We currently live in a suburb of Minneapolis.
GamePlan: What role did athletics play in helping you get to where you are now?
Megan: Well...athletics was where I met my husband and the rest is history...seriously, though, he was one of the football captains and I was one of the soccer captains at Carleton. Athletics helped me by giving me an immediate family so far from home (I grew up in Seattle and knew nobody on the first day of preseason my freshman year). Playing sports and balancing classwork, as well as a student job, taught me time management and work ethic. I live by that every day - work hard, keep focused and good things come your way. We both teach that to our kids and our players every day. Regardless of what life brings, you have a choice. Each time, choose to bring a positive attitude and 100% effort and the rest will work itself out. I learned that from sports.
GamePlan: Love this so much, couldn't agree more!
GamePlan: Anything else you’d like to share?
Megan: I think college athletics at every level - DI to DIII - is an amazing way to experience higher education. It created an extended family connection for me.
Thank you, Megan! Love to hear about your experiences and how they've helped shape your life, and your family's life! Just as Megan said - playing a sport at any level in college can be a wonderful experience - it's a matter finding the right school for you. Until next time!