San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

First-year student-athletes reflect on what it means to play at a collegiate level

Lidia Major and Finley Bates share their rise and aspirations at a Division 1 school
Jamie Sanchez and Image courtesy of San Diego Athletics. (Justin Fine, SDSU Athletics)

San Diego State University welcomes first-year students every school year, but also in that group are student-athletes. 

Some of those student-athletes include individuals like Lidia Major and Finley Bates who have shared their experiences as first-year students involved in the athletics program at SDSU. 

Major — who is studying kinesiology — is from the Orange County area. She is a mid-distance runner for SDSU women’s track and field team. 

Major chose SDSU over other schools because she felt at home and felt appreciation for the athlete she was. 

“I had a few other offers mostly all from California universities,” Major said. “SDSU really stood out to me because of the coaching staff and how you’re not just a number to them. You’re an actual person, an actual runner. Like all these big schools, you’re so drawn to them because of the name, but they don’t have real teams and SDSU has a real team. It’s a family community rather than just being separated from your other teammates.” 

Bates, though, is from Castle Rock, Colorado, and is an infielder player for SDSU’s baseball team. 

Bates chose SDSU because of the support of head coach Shaun Cole.

“It just felt right, I love coach Cole and I really enjoyed playing under him right now,” Bates said. “I think that we had a good relationship going in and it just felt like home.”

Major shared the process of being able to play at a collegiate level. 

“It took me four years of hard work to get Coach B’s attention,” Major said. “You just have to keep bugging the coaches until they really see your potential. It definitely took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to a collegiate level, but I’m excited to see how far I go.”

SDSU is a Division 1 athletic program, however, both Major and Bates created goals for themselves before coming to San Diego. 

For Major, it was staying persistent throughout the challenges. 

“My goal was to not quit and keep pushing through all the pain,” Major said. “I knew that collegiate level is going to be a big change in the level of intensity, and I’ve stuck through it and I have achieved the goal.”

Bates’s goal was to get the starting position for the season.

“I’ve always held myself to a high standard both on and off the field,” Bates said. “One goal was to just get time on the field and try to win a starting job this year and I was able to do that. I’ve been given a great opportunity by the coaching staff and that’s been such a blessing to be able to say that I’ve accomplished that.”

Major is grateful to be able to be in the spot she is right now all thanks to the coaching staff taking a chance on her. 

“To me, this is a blessing because I personally never thought I’d be able to make it to this level,” Major said. “The coaches saw a lot in me and they broke me down and rebuilt me and I’m better than I ever have been.” 

Both student-athletes shared what they have learned from their first-ever practice with the team up until now. 

“I’ve grown a ton as a player but I’ve been given a lot of advice by experienced coaches and just older guys,” Bates said. “The opportunities I have gotten on the field — getting some adversity as a team — I think that really helps grow as a player for sure.” 

Major, on the other hand, mentioned the team’s unity and how the coaches have changed her athleticism.

“I learned that, with the teammates, we are all going through the same pain and rebuilding at practice,” Major said. “It’s just really nice knowing that when everyone’s going through it together, we’re all gonna come out being better. With these coaches, they can really build up an athlete. I’ve already seen so much change in the way I run and all my time.” 

Major’s big challenge was transitioning from high school to college and starting fresh on her track career.

“In high school, you can go from being the best, and once you hit college, it’s like you restart your whole track career,” Major said. “So it’s kind of like going from that mental ‘yes, you’re going to have several losses before you start getting some wins.’ It’s definitely a little mental right now, but the coaches are very good about letting you take your time and getting better.”

Bates shared the best advice he has received since arriving at SDSU from assistant coach Tony Tarasco.

“One thing coach Tarasco says a lot is ‘pressure is a privilege,’” Bates said. “I think that when I see myself in spots where (the) game is on the line, I always think about that. It allows me to switch my mindset to be thankful for the opportunity that allows me to succeed at a higher level than I do.”

The first year of college is learning, making mistakes and growing, which is something that every college student goes through. 

It’s set that the student-athletes will keep on growing on the field or off the field. 


About the Contributor
Abigail Segoviano
Abigail Segoviano, '24-25 Mundo Azteca Editor
Originally from Richmond, California, Abigail Segoviano is a second-year student, majoring in Journalism with a minor in Spanish. This is Abigail’s second year at the Daily Aztec where she got the opportunity to expand her writing skills as a journalist. As a staff writer last year she had the opportunity to mainly cover the entire season of women’s volleyball and also covered a couple of games for women’s basketball. This year her main focus is to branch out and write for different sports. Additionally to get involved in other sections such as Multimedia and Mundo Azteca. Abigail is the Vice President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (SDSU Chapter). Abigail received an award from The Daily Aztec: “Consistent Contributor.” In her free time, she enjoys reading, watching sports, listening to music, and going on adventures with friends.