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  • Matt Ondesko

Making the move

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

by Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor

When an athlete transfers to another school, they don’t know to expect. They don’t know if they are going to fit in with the team or not. They don’t know if the style of play is going to be right for them.

While an athlete can go on a ton of visits, in the end, there is just a lot of of uncertainty.

Buffalo State College volleyball and softball player Kayla Wolinski didn’t exactly know what to expect when she transferred from Erie Community College to Buffalo State after two years. The Lancaster High School product just had a productive two-year stint playing both sports at ECC, and now it was time to make the move to a four year school to finish her athletic and academic career.

During the time she was looking into schools, Wolinski was trying to make sure it was a right fit for her. She wanted to make sure she was going to feel comfortable both academically and athletically. Any school needed to have her major.

Buffalo State checked all the boxes.

“The major factor it came down to was location for me when I was choosing where to transfer, Buffalo State was close to where I live. Buffalo State also allowed me to continue playing both my sports and I felt very welcomed right away. Buffalo State also had a minor I was interested in and suited me well, which was a coaching minor,” stated Wolinski. “Academically, ECC was a great start in that the professors at ECC were very helpful and full of knowledge in the content they were teaching. Growing up, I was not the best academically but ECC helped put me on the right track into upping my grades and I did that successfully. Athletically, ECC helped me realize what it takes to play a college sport. It helped me realize the different set of pace and commitment it takes to play a college sport, and I couldn’t thank my ECC coaches enough for that.”

While at ECC, Wolinski played both sports and carried a full class load. She challenged herself - and passed that challenged. But, it wasn’t easy. Wolinski had to make sure that she kept her focus, and that her grades couldn’t slip.

Playing both at ECC allowed her to stay more focused and concentrate on her academics, while excelling in her athletic career.

“Playing two sports at ECC wasn’t easy but I got great help from my coaches there. Playing two sports at ECC helped my grades because it forced me to stay in a routine and focus on school work,” stated Wolinski. “I definitely made friends that I am so thankful for and will be in touch with for the rest of my life by playing two sports at ECC.”

Her transition to Buffalo State was an easy one because of the work she put in while at ECC. She was able to step right in on the volleyball team and contribute right away. While the program has struggled over the years, Wolinski has been seen as a building block.

Her work ethic has rubbed off on the other girls - and she always puts the team goals ahead of her personal goals. Some times when stepping into a new situation, it’s tough for a person to fit in. But, Wolinski has the type of personality where people are just drawn to her. That made her move to Buffalo State that much easier.

“Coming into Buff State athletics, I honestly could say I did not know what to expect. No matter what I knew, I had to work hard and earn my spot. It’s one thing to have a spot, but to make a difference is a whole other level. I continued to work hard and put in the work on and off the court/field,” stated Wolinski. “Coming from ECC, the level of commitment was a little more here at Buffalo State but nothing I couldn’t handle. I definitely had to get used to my teammates as well because even though I was coming in as a junior, I was still someone new to them and they were new to me, but it took not long to get along and make bonds.”

We still haven’t been able to see what Wolinski can go on the diamond as the softball season was cancelled last season. When finding out the news the season was not going to happen, it was a difficult pill to swallow.

Wolinski and her teammates were psyched to get the softball season rolling. The team was coming off a good campaign the following year and expectations were high. The news didn’t sit well with the team, as they didn’t really know how to take it.

“I was super pumped to play softball this season. When I heard the news, I immediately thought about the seniors on the team and how they were not going to be able to have that senior season every person dreams of having,” stated Wolinski. “My softball team and I cried together for 2 hours when we were told our season was cancelled. Personally, I was drained mentally because I went my whole life always having sports in my life and to have that taken away so unexpectedly was not easy.”

At some point Wolinski knows that the competitive side of sports will be no more. If the spring has taught anyone anything, it’s that you can’t take anything grant it. If losing the spring wasn’t bad enough, Wolinski and her teammates also lost the fall due to the pandemic.

This lapse is sports could be a blessing is disguise, not really, as she is getting ready to embark on her second career - post athletics. The biggest obstacle for athletes is what to do with themselves after their careers are over.

They are so used to getting up and working out, and having the routine. Now, the routine is gone. They need to find that outlet when their careers come to an end.

“I am excited but scared to graduate and start the next chapter of my life because I won’t have college sports, which has a big part of my heart and to have to let that go will be hard,” stated Wolinski. “When I graduate, I do not quite know exactly what job I want to do yet but it will be accompanied by coaching in some matter or is what I hope. I will for sure continue my two favorite sports in recreational leagues.”


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