Finding “The One” in Davidson

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The goal was to play Division I soccer at the best school possible, one that offered outstanding academics and a competitive athletic program. So, we embarked on a mid-winter, cross-county trip with scheduled stops at Duke, Wake Forest and finally Davidson College, a college we had never heard of until a recruiting email from Matt Spear, the Men’s Soccer Head Coach.

Men's Soccer - 2017 fall seniorsThere was something about that last stop that just felt right. It was welcoming and comforting; it felt like a safe place to be 3,500 miles away from home. The academics would be challenging and we were impressed by the competitiveness of the athletic program. The coach cared as much about Matt’s success as a student-athlete as he did about him off the field, and he would be influential in his life for the next four years.

When returning home, it was hard to put into words that there was just something special about that last stop. It met all the hard criteria while filling the warm and fuzzy part that that lets you know this is the one. BUT . . . as a mother, this wasn’t my decision to make. It had to be Matt’s choice.

The decision to attend Davidson College didn’t happen quickly, but Davidson became the higher standard that all other colleges were compared to. Matt wanted to make sure this was “the one.” In July before his senior year of high school, Matt called the soccer coach to inform him that he was committing to Davidson College. To date, it is the proudest moment in his life.

Reinikka family with beardsIn Matt’s four years at Davidson, he has become fluent in Spanish, had the opportunity to attend professor office hours at 10 p.m., became Captain of the Men’s Soccer Team, coordinated a St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser, worked in the Athletic Department and been a buddy to a special needs teenager. When I learned the non-profit One in Four was going to be starting a new chapter at Davidson College, I thought this might be something Matt would be interested in. One in Four’s mission is to end sexual assault in college through peer education. When I texted him about possibly attending the inaugural chapter meeting, he responded with, “I am one of the founding board members for Davidson.”  These things are evidence that Davidson is producing individuals that are committed to making the world a better place through servant leadership.

Well, four years and two degrees later, it was a decision made with absolutely no regrets. We have all made many friends for life. Matt has had the same roommate all four years. We’ve had the pleasure of meeting several Davidson Soccer alumni and have been inspired by their eagerness to generously provide ongoing support to the program. We are grateful to be a part of the Davidson College and its soccer family, and we appreciate how Davidson has prepared Matt to be a positive influence as he moves into the next chapter of his life.

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Shonda Reinikka is Mom to Matt Reinikka, Davidson College class of 2018.

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